Praful calls meeting with I-League clubs on July 3

Praful Patel

NEW DELHI: It has been a long time coming, and trust deficit notwithstanding, the governing body of Indian football, its commercial partners and the I-League clubs will finally get to sit across the table on July 3.

Which also explains why the all important meeting of the AIFF's executive committee, which was earlier scheduled to happen on July 3, was on Friday postponed to July 9.

AIFF general secretary Kushal Das’ letter to the club owners, issued Saturday afternoon, reads: “This is to inform you that a meeting with representatives of I-League clubs with the President of All India Football Federation has been fixed on 3rd July 2019 at 3 pm at Le Meridien, New Delhi.”

It needs noting that the I-League clubs had requested face time with Patel, once before the beginning of the previous season and once before the Super Cup, but on neither occasion did the meetings take place.

In February, eight I-League clubs - Mohun Bagan, Quess East Bengal, Churchill Brothers, Chennai City FC, Minerva Punjab FC, Aizawl FC, NEROCA and Gokulam Kerala FC - had requested the AIFF president for a meeting to discuss their future ahead of the Super Cup but it was only after Minerva, Aizawl and Gokulam boycotted the qualifiers that Das replied saying Patel will meet them between April 10-14 (which did not happen).

The meeting has added significance as the AIFF's EC is expected to announce the Indian Super League as the top tier of Indian professional club league, a status that the I-League has only notionally enjoyed since the ISL arrived on the scene.

Seven I-League clubs, including heavyweights Mohun Bagan and Quess East Bengal, have threatened the football governing body that they will approach the court if such a decision is taken.

I-League clubs have been demanding to merge both the leagues and form a uniform league of 20 clubs, following the model of European leagues, something which AIFF's commercial partners Football Sports Development Ltd, have refused to entertain.

Last Tuesday, Chennai City FC joined the seven I-League clubs and shot a letter to AIFF addressing the problem areas in Indian football at the moment and asked for an invite to the executive committee meeting "either collectively (all I-League club owners present) or individually, as the current Champions of the I-League."

It is after that letter, that AIFF general secretary has told the I-League clubs that the president will meet them.

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