East Bengal and Mohun Bagan almost confirm to play in I-League this season
The meeting between AIFF and the I-League clubs has failed to provide any proper direction or conclusion to the ongoing saga of the I-League and ISL merger and the ever existing ‘Top league’ dilemma.
It was not something unexpected though, as AIFF themselves were not ready to sit in a meeting but it was the officials of the I-League clubs especially East Bengal and Mohun Bagan who requested Praful Patel repeatedly to arrange a meeting. The officials of the two clubs also established contact with the NCP leader repeatedly during and after the AIFF Awards Ceremony on this issue.
AIFF finally gave the nod and decided to have a meeting today with the club officials. But according to sources no solution to the merger issue has been delineated. And East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have almost decided that they are going to play in I-League and not in ISL.
East Bengal Assistant Secretary Debabrata Sarkar said,
“No final decision has been taken in the meeting. We will discuss again regarding this matter.”
The Joint Secretary of the club Dr. Shantiranjan Dasgupta commented,
“A number of plans have been projected for the betterment of Indian football. We have to discuss on these issues. Then we will declare our decision as soon as possible.”
The stand of Mohun Bagan is almost the same as their rivals.
Although Bengaluru FC has previously made it clear that they will play in the ISL given their bid is being accepted inspite of the fact that there is no surity of AFC Cup slot for ISL clubs. According to BFC, ISL is the league for the future and they have faith upon AIFF that they will impress AFC to confirm slots for the ISL clubs in the continental tournaments.
The bottomline of the meeting as it stands now is this:
●No merger is taking place at least this season.
●I-League and ISL will run parallely.
●East Bengal and Mohun Bagan will play in I-League. (They raised the issue that they collected the bid paper which according to them should be considered as an intent to play ISL. But as the whole process is under FSDL, AIFF could not give the Kolkata giants any positive output.)
●Bengaluru will play ISL given their bid is accepted.
● AIFF have assured I-League clubs that the matches of I-League will be telecasted on Star Network also like ISL.
● There is a proposal of a ‘Super League’ which will be played between the top 5 teams of each I-League and ISL. The Champions of Super League will play ACL Qualifiers while runners-up will play AFC Cup. (Proposed only)
If sources are to believed then another meeting between AIFF officials and the club representatives is scheduled to happen on Monday. But chances of any solution coming out of that meeting(if it happens) seems very dim.