News Live Scores
Indian Super League

I-League clubs failing to stick together with another alliance on the verge of breakdown

03:01 BST 21/08/2019
I-League clubs association
The union of six protesting I-League clubs looks to be breaking away with the Kolkata giants having other ideas...

With there is still no end in sight to their ongoing standoff against the AIFF (All India Football Federation) and its commercial partners, cracks are already starting to appear in the consortium of the ‘rebel’ I-League clubs.

Six I-League clubs have been at loggerheads with the Indian FA ever since the decision to award the AFC Champions League play-off spot to the Indian Super League (ISL) winners was taken but that union seems to be on the cusp of falling away.

Reports of negotiations between Football Sports Development Limited (FDSL) and Kolkata I-League giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have intensified over the last few days and that does not really come as a surprise.

The two Kolkata clubs had previously been rumoured to be in discussions to join the ISL as well with AIFF’s commercial partners but had walked away after balking at the entry fee for a new franchise to join the league.

With the latest reports suggesting that the two clubs are once again trying to gain entry into the ISL from 2020-21, it looks like another alliance between the I-League clubs is about to be broken.

It is very likely that the two Kolkata outfits will walk away from the alliance and that is going to leave the remaining four clubs – Minerva Punjab, Churchill Brothers, Gokulam Kerala and Aizawl FC – high and dry.

On Tuesday, there was a meeting organised by the rebel I-League clubs with their lawyers. However, the Kolkata giants and Aizawl FC failed to turn up for the same.

This is not the first time that the I-League clubs have failed to stick together to a common cause and the same was seen at the end of last season during the Super Cup in Bhubaneswar.

With doubts growing over the future of the I-league as the top-tier going forward, as many as nine clubs had come together to boycott the knock-out tournament as they demanded showdown talks with AIFF President Praful Patel.

That union failed to last long either with the likes of Real Kashmir and I-League winners Chennai City decided to break away from the protest and take part in the Super Cup after all.

In the end, only six teams decided to proceed with the boycott.

A failure to stick together has been observed with I-League clubs on other occasions as well with each club trying to look out for its own interest in the end. Several clubs had also banded together in 2013 when the formation of the ISL was at a nascent stage but even that alliance had ultimately crumbled away with no impact at all being made.

There is enough disparity as it is in the I-League with clubs like the Kolkata giants operating on a completely different financial scale compared to the likes of newer entrants like Minerva Punjab and Aizawl and their ongoing battles are only becoming tougher with the outfits failing to stick together to a previously agreed common cause.