Chennai City FC owner Rohit Ramesh echoed the thoughts of most I-League clubs as he admitted his disapproval of the swap of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) spots for the winners of I-League and Indian Super League (ISL).
The union of I-League clubs met All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel on Wednesday to discuss the roadmap of Indian football. The clubs then released a statement on Thursday in which they mentioned their disapproval in giving away the AFC Champions League (ACL) spot reserved for I-League champions.
Rohit Ramesh, owner of defending champions Chennai City who are all set to play in the upcoming ACL, told Goal,"As I-League champions, we have very categorically mentioned in the meeting that we have a right to defend the title and from the proposal put forward by the President we have that opportunity to do so.
“The decision of AFC slots are not the domain of clubs or State FAs to decide and remain under the jurisdiction of the National Federation and Continental Federation. We ideally would want things to remain at status quo,” he said.
Chennai City will be featuring in the 2020 AFC Champions League qualifiers by virtue of being crowned I-League but this could be the last time an I-League club has a shot of playing in Asia’s top-tier club competition.
Ramesh also claimed that no promises were made regarding the involvement of I-League clubs in the executive committee meeting.
“For Chennai City, it is important that we remain focused on preparing for the season ahead not just in terms of playing I-League but the Champions league especially and what would happen and where we would be by the end of this season is not something we wish to speculate on.
“No such comment or promise (to involve clubs in the executive committee meeting) was made by the President," he said.
Praful Patel had expressed his wish to continue with the existing arrangement of a two-league system for three more years. Although the suggestion is appreciated, Rohit Ramesh is hoping for a unified league with promotion and relegation.
“We do appreciate the 2-3 year window as it allows clubs like us to plan financially and strategically on the way forward. We do believe there should be a unified single structure with promotion-relegation and more teams participating in lower leagues and winning their way to the top,” he concluded.