The AIFF is taking a legal opinion on whether the I-League can be a separate legal entity or not – Kushal Das

The Indian FA have knocked the doors of an attorney to seek an opinion on the status of India’s premier national football league…

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) have asked for a legal opinion on whether the I-League can be made into a separate legal entity in the current scenario where it is the property of the AIFF wherein the broadcast and marketing rights of the latter have already been sold to IMG-Reliance for a period of 15 years starting December 2010.

This was after the insistence of the clubs who were stubborn in their pursuit to make I-League a separate legal entity, as according to the norms of the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) club license.

In a meeting held last month at the AIFF headquarters in Delhi, the Indian FA agreed “in principle”, as according to their vice-president Subrata Dutta, to make the I-League a separate legal entity.

Kushal Das, the AIFF general secretary, confirmed that an opinion from a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was sought to ascertain whether the above mentioned proposal could be put into practice.

“Yes, we are taking an independent legal opinion of setting up a new legal entity to see whether it is possible or not,” informed Das.

However the clubs have refused to sign the AFC form concerning the club licensing criteria until the I-League is made a separate legal entity. The AIFF has incorporated a new rule in its Constitution which states that every participating club in the I-League must fulfill the club licensing criterion.

"The decision has been taken by the Special General Body meeting to include it in the Constitution. But we have to give sometime before we actually put it in the Constitution and there is a period of say 30-odd days or so; then the Constitution will be amended,” Das mentioned.

Sunando Dhar, the I-League CEO, highlighted the same and believes that the clubs will have to bear the responsibility if India fails to meet the AFC criterion.

“For participating in AFC Champions League, exemptions can be given for the first year. AFC licensing criteria is only valid for two years that is 2013 and 2014. For 2015 onward, the license has to be issued by the member association for any AFC competition. If they don’t sign then they don’t get to play in any AFC tournament (from 2015) and now that the licensing criterion has been incorporated in our Constitution, one of the conditions to play the I-League is to fulfill the criteria,” said Dhar.

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