AIFF Committee proposes no relegation in I-League

The All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) proposal to freeze relegation in the I-League after more than a month of a successfully conducted championship under strict bio-bubble has raised a few eyebrows. If the proposal gets through and the League committee and the executive committee decides that there will be no relegation then the Imphal-based North Eastern Re-Organising Cultural Association Football Club, known as Neroca FC, will stay in the I-League despite being relegated with eight points from 14 matches.

AIFF League Committee held a meeting via video conferencing on Friday chaired by Subrata Dutta, Senior Vice President, AIFF, and the Chairman of the league committee.

In the meeting, the federation’s Romanian technical director Isac Doru proposed the idea of freezing relegation in the I-League citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the prime cause. Since the clubs are finding it difficult to sustain and meet both ends, stopping the relegation, was the argument.

Isac backed his arguments with examples from 23 countries across the world, including the likes of the Netherlands (Eredivisie), Argentina (Liga Profesional de Futbol), Mexico (Liga MX), Romania (Liga 1), Japan (JLeague and J2-League), as to how different countries from across the world have frozen relegation during the time of the pandemic, to help the teams in difficult times.

In a statement released by AIFF, Isac said, “I have been in conversation with all Club coaches during the pandemic wherein everyone mentioned about the challenges faced — which included short duration for preparation, reduced training hours, difficulties in organising friendly matches, transfer problems amongst others.”

Dhar also confirmed that AIFF had approached all the participating clubs and all of them have unanimously mentioned to us in writing that under current circumstances relegation should be frozen.

AIFF’s move won’t come as a surprise for the Indian football fraternity as the nation’s so-called top-tier competition (Indian Super League) has no relegation. The sense of competition holds no importance and the ethos of football are being killed by the people at the top that seriously believe Indian football is their fiefdom. This decision will have a financial implication for the clubs that were going to be promoted from the second division.

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