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I-League clubs to write to AFC, FIFA; challenge MRA in court

AUGUSTO RODRIGUES | NT

Panaji

The six I-League clubs – Churchill Brothers FC, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Minerva Punjab FC, Gokulam FC and Aizawl FC – that met after the decision of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Executive Committee to ask AFC to allot the Asian Champions League slot to the winner of the Indian Super League — have decided to first write to Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA before approaching the courts.

The meeting of the six clubs was held in New Delhi on Tuesday. The meeting started at 3 pm and ended around 7 pm with representatives of the six clubs having parleys with some senior lawyers of the country.

“The AFC and FIFA are our parent associations and that is why we thought it right to first write to them to keep them abreast of the situation,” one member of a club, who attended the meeting, told The Navhind Times over the phone.

Six of the ten I-League clubs in India have, after the meeting with AIFF president Praful Patel on July 3, started having misgivings over AIFF intentions of recognising the I-League as the main league of the country.

The misgivings came to the surface when it became clear that the AIFF Executive Committee had to ratify the Masters Right Agreement (MRA) signed between AIFF and Football Sports Development Limited in 2010 in its meeting on July 9, 2019.  The six clubs wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the eve of the Executive Committee meeting detailing the state of football in the country. The move irked the AIFF president who instead of asking the AFC to maintain status quo – allow the ISL and I-League run together for another three years – opted to ask that ISL be recognised as the premier league of the country.

The AIFF let the I-League clubs in the lurch by asking the AFC to “find a possible solution” for I-League clubs.

“We have still not received any written communication from AIFF about what transpired during the Executive committee meeting on July 9. All we know is what was posted on its website and what was circulated to the press. The statement on the website is vague,” stated a member of an I-League club who attended the meeting on Tuesday.

“We had a lengthy discussion with our lawyers and the lawyers have asked us to submit some more documents to them. Our fight in court is going to be on the illegality of the Masters Right Agreement signed by AIFF with FSDL. That is going to be our contention,” stated a member of an I-League club present for the meeting.

“The MRA is going to be challenged by our advocates because they have realised that the agreement not only violates many laws of the country but has at places transgressed FIFA laws. There are codes formulated in India that have been overstepped by this agreement,” stated a member, who was present for the meeting.

“We should be writing to AFC and FIFA within a day or two and in the mean time we shall be working on providing the added details our advocates have asked for,” stated an I-League team member.

Whilst club officials of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have met senior BJP leaders in Kolkata to apprise them of the situation and a request to ask the Prime Minister to intervene to save the two famous clubs from India, Churchill Brothers FC, according to a press release issued by the club, have met Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to brief him of the injustice being meted out to teams that have been harbouring football for decades.

Chief Minister Sawant, as per the press release, has promised to intercede with the Prime Minister on behalf of Churchill Brothers FC.

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