Indian Football: Mohun Bagan and East Bengal apprehensive on AFC meeting after AIFF snub

In a joint press conference, officials of both clubs demanded a reply from the AIFF on the failure to deliver a revised roadmap for the future...

Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal came together to sound out the All India Football Federation (AIFF) on their joint decision regarding the proposed roadmap for the future of Indian football. And frightenening to say, it doesn't seem a rosy road ahead. 

Addressing the gathered media in a joint press conference after a meeting convened by the Indian Football Association (West Bengal's FA body) (IFA) Secretary Utpal Ganguli, representatives of both clubs accused the AIFF President Praful Patel of leaving them in the lurch. 

"Praful Patel met officials of both the clubs earlier this month (6th May) and promised them that by 25th May he will share with them the revised roadmap for the future of Indian football. There was a ray of hope after this. Suddenly, the bid document tenders were floated by the Indian Super League (ISL) authorities and the last date of submission was 25th May as well. Is that a coincidence or a farce of some kind, I do not know," Ganguli castigated in his opening statement.

He further explained, "We are yet to be given a roadmap and then came up the sudden intimation from the AIFF of a meeting convened at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) headquarters on 7th June which will include various stakeholders of Indian football. We don't know the confirmed list of stakeholders but it makes no sense in having some of the supposed stakeholders in that meeting from the names we are given to understand."

"We are writing to the AIFF President and demanding him to share the roadmap first. Moreover, this is an issue between the clubs and AIFF, not an AFC issue, it's purely a domestic issue so discuss it here. We will see about the meeting on 7th June and see how important it is. We will decide to go or not after we get his reply. We hope the AIFF solves it.

"But, if all these issues are not sorted out, we are ready to whatever step necessary. But, we still hope for a solution. We are not thinking about a Plan-B but we will keep our state's Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Minister of Sports Aroop Biswas abreast of whatever transpires between us and the AIFF," elucidated a heated chief.  

"So, the AIFF have defaulted us on the committment of a roadmap promised on 25th May. We will decide on our next step on the reply we get from the letter, which we will send latest by Monday," ended Ganguli with his statement.

Anjan Mitra comments on ISL

Mohun Bagan's Finance Secretary Debasish Dutta, raised his concerns over the meeting which transpired between AIFF and Asian football Confederations (AFC) General Secretary Dato Windsor in New Delhi on 24th May. "No one has any idea what happened in that meeting," he said.

Dutta further commented, "The promotion of the I-League is diluting and as a result the ISL's growing with better standard of telecast. Obviously the financial support is huge and in that case, there are no takers for the I-League.

"ISL is the number one tournament commercially, visually and viably. So, why have two parallel tournaments? It's a way of compromise. Wasn't the motive to have a long tournament afterall?", he said making his intent clear to see the Green and Maroons in an 'expanded' ISL. 

East Bengal's executive committee member Debabrata Sarkar opined that it was Praful Patel himself who does not want the 'legacy clubs' to be a part of the ISL.

"We are still in dark about how football is going to be run in this country. If Praful Patel wants, we can play in the ISL. It seems he could not care less and it is not happening. In my personal opinion, Praful Patel is the only hurdle," Sarkar came out with a strong statement against the NCP member.

Anjan Mitra, the Honorary Secretary of Mohun Bagan delivered the final punch in the press meet suggesting they would go as far as to stop the ISL from taking place if demands are not met.

"We have decided just one thing in our meeting - No Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, no ISL. We will not allow the ISL here. We will not allow business in the name of football.

"Money can't buy you everything. Football will be played like football. We want all of your cooperation in such a movement. We can't tolerate AIFF's torture," the senior official pleaded for a swift action to take place for the goodwill of Indian football.