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Thursday, Dec 09, 2021
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I-League Clubs Don't Have Legal Right To Take Action Against AIFF: Official Talks About ISL, Ongoing Developments

With the domestic season few months away, Indian football is still stuck in an abyss regarding its future. The country's traditional top-tier competition, I-League, could be pushed down the gutter, with the cash-strapped ISL pushed into the frontline.

I-League Clubs Don't Have Legal Right To Take Action Against AIFF: Official Talks About ISL, Ongoing Developments
I-League Clubs Don't Have Legal Right To Take Action Against AIFF: Official Talks About ISL, Ongoing Developments
outlookindia.com
2019-06-22T19:28:21+05:30

With Indian football’s future still shrouded in mystery, the scenario between I-League clubs and Indian Super League looks more unsure before the upcoming domestic season. Lately, there has been a huge wall of friction between AIFF and I-league outfits, with reports stating that ISL will be given top-tier status by next month, which means that the successor to the defunct National Football League will be removed from its rightful throne.

Although there has been plenty of chaos in the Indian football fraternity currently, with many outfits allegedly looking at legal options against AIFF, a source from the Indian FA has revealed that they can’t do such a thing.

“It was agreed upon that ISL would be a franchise league. Their policy is ISL will be a closed league, and only teams paying franchise registration fees can enter the league. Also, the right of refusal is with FSDL. It is a matter of policy. It was agreed to keep ISL as a closed league,” stated the source.

“AIFF doesn’t have any binding responsibility to inform clubs about marketing and commercial partnerships. The I-League clubs don’t have a legal option to file a case against AIFF. The clubs are registered to their state associations, and not affiliated to AIFF. They play in AIFF’s leagues. So, whatever AIFF does in regards of broadcast and marketing, they don’t have a legal right to take action against it,” said the AIFF official.

Lately, reports stated that FSDL had threatened AIFF with legal action if ISL was not given top-tier status. Refuting those reports, the official stated that FSDL had only asked AIFF to follow their contractual obligations and appoint ISL as the top league.

A recent TOI report stated that ISL would be given the top status. Regarding this, speaking to Outlook, the source explained that AIFF had signed an agreement with IMG-Reliance in 2010, in the agreement, there was a clause that a new league would be formed which would be the most “senior and prestigious” league of the country. Now, the agreement is between AIFF and FSDL, a subsidiary of IMG-Reliance.

ALSO READ: Reports: Praful Patel's AIFF Ready To Push I-League Down The Gutter, Indian Super League To Receive Top-Tier Status

He explained, “That time there was no ISL. It was just a contract. It was a marketing and commercial partnership contract. We gave our marketing and commercial rights to IMG-R (now FSDL).” He stated that whichever league would be formed by the Master Rights Agreement (MRA) would be India’s top-tier league.

Also, the MRA was originally between AIFF and Zee Sports, which was subsumed by IMG-R for Rs. 70 crores. The Indian FA entered into an agreement with Zee Sports in 2005 (ten-year contract).

The insider went on to state that there is nothing called “League One” as of now, which has been reported by outlets as a new upcoming competition placed below ISL. It has also been reported that I-League would probably be discontinued, and there would be no promotion-relegation system in ISL.

“There is nothing called League One as of now. There is I-League and a second division league. Second division clubs can be promoted to I-League, but I-League outfits can’t get promoted to ISL, as it is a closed league,” added the AIFF official.

Regarding the allegations that ISL champions would take part in AFC Champions League proceedings, and Super Cup winners would take part in AFC Cup, the source claimed, “It is a rule that the country’s top-tier league’s champion will take part in AFC Champions League, and winner of a knockout competition will be part of AFC Cup.”

ALSO READ: Indian Football Transfer Gossip: Chennai City's Nestor Gordillo Allegedly Signs For Pune City Without Informing Parent Club

Also regarding the lack of an official future road map for I-League clubs from AIFF has bought in plenty of flak. Accordingly, the source revealed that I-League clubs already knew about it for the past few years, just that AIFF didn’t announce it officially as it was “protecting its interests”. According to reports, AIFF will announce their decision on July 3.

Defending the no promotion-relegation in the reported proposed top-tier format, the official insisted that ISL is a closed and franchise league, where clubs have invested a huge amount of money. So if they get relegated then their money will go on waste. That’s why a form of protection has been given to them.

Although, Indian football fans agree that such a system could make the sport less competitive and more stagnant.

Also recently, AIFF hiked their fine on I-League outfits to Rs. 27.5 lakhs approximately, due to boycotting the Super Cup in protest. The official explained that the hike consisted of compensation charges and costs lost in those abandoned matches, like lodging etc.

The future looks dark for Indian football, with the sport still being an unexplored market, and profits very meagre. It is worrisome as ISL clubs could back out in the future due to fewer returns, and I-League outfits could shut down due to poor broadcast, presentation and packaging (as was seen by I-League’s broadcast last season).

“A day could come in the future when there are no clubs. ISL clubs close shop and I-League clubs become extinct due to lack of interest. Football cannot exist without clubs. Football is club based,” concluded the AIFF official.

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