Telecast Row: I-League clubs threaten to approach court, FIFA

The Indian FA and its marketing partners FSDL have less than a week to meet demands or risk getting dragged to court...

The I-League (Private) Clubs Association have threatened to seek legal redressal, or via FIFA and the Court of Arbirtation for Sports (CAS) if the All India Football Federation (AIFF) fail to promise telecast of all remaining 2018-19 I-League games before the deadline of 5 January, 2019.

Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj, flanked by representatives from two (Chennai City and Gokulam Kerala) of the remaining six clubs in the association, held a press conference in Kolkata on Sunday, lashing out on AIFF and its marketing partners Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL).

"We have set January 5 as the deadline for AIFF to respond. We have written to Praful Patel (AIFF president) and he is yet to respond. After that, I will be forced to approach the civil courts of India, CAS and FIFA," Bajaj said.

"Before the start of this season, we had three demands - all I-League games should be telecasted, all matches should be telecasted with the same quality of the Indian Super League (ISL) and should get similar kind of promotion. All these demands were verbally agreed and no contract was signed as Mr. Kushal Das (AIFF General Secretary) assured us telecast of each and every game. Now we get to know only 80 games will be shown out of the 110."

Bajaj's Minerva Punjab wil have the least games telecast after the 10th round. Bajaj alleged that this was due to a personal agenda against him from a FSDL official who was earlier working with an I-League club.

Out of the eleven I-League clubs, only seven have joined the association while Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Churchill Brothers' decision to stay away from the private body has not shocked Bajaj, with speculation rife of the Kolkata giants joining the ISL soon.

"If they were on our side, this would have never happened and I-League would have its own existence. I used to call Mohun Bagan and East Bengal the torch-bearers of Indian football but not anymore. The FSDL have hung a carrot infront of them. Why are they not raising their voice?"

It is believed that Real Kashmir have also softened their stance against the broadcasters' decision. Bajaj stated that the Jammu and Kashmir outfit have been rather quiet in the last three-four days but are yet to withdraw support from the association.

It must be noted that Real Kashmir conducted their pre-season training at the Beverley Park in Mumbai which is also the base of ISL side Mumbai City.

Their other demands include a unified league based solely on promotion and relegation and the AIFF to function as an independent body, without any third-party interference as it stands in violation of FIFA regulation's article 19.1 and 19.2.