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East Bengal, Mohun Bagan confront AIFF on ISL participation

IANS logoIANS 27-05-2017

In a sharp attack on the AIFF -- the game's apex governing body in the country -- the two clubs raised the slogan "No Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, no ISL", days after the AIFF's suggestion that the ISL and the I-league could run parallel to each other.

"The AIFF is torturing us. We won't take that any more. Today we have taken one simple decision -- No Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, no ISL. We won't allow the ISL to be staged here. Football cannot be a money-spinning business. We won't allow that. Football should be played in its true spirit," Mohun Bagan general secretary Anjan Mitra told mediapersons after a joint meeting among his club, East Bengal and the state's top supervisory body Indian Football Association.

The clubs have demanded that the ISL waive the franchisee fee of Rs 15 crore for them and they be allowed to play the tournament in Kolkata. The two clubs have also asked for money from the central pool.

Both city giants have not submitted the bid document for joining the ISL.

Both clubs also turned down the AIFF's suggestion of a parallel tournament, saying the top governing body was only promoting the ISL in a big way.

Describing AIFF President Praful Patel as the "main hurdle" for their entry into the ISL, East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar said: "Had Praful Patel wanted, we could have taken part in the ISL. But he doesn't want us there, so we can't play. He is the sole hurdle, but that is my personal opinion."

"In the given situation, holding the ISL and the I-League is meaningless. They (AIFF) are only diluting the I-League," he added.

However, Mohun Bagan Financial Secretary Debasish Dutta made it clear that waiver of the franchisee fee was their main demand.

"Our primary demand is the money waiver. As for the venues, recently (West Bengal) Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has assured us that she would talk to the three of us (East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Atletico de Kolkata) and find out an acceptable solution. We have faith in her. So venue is not a problem," he said.

The two clubs said they were yet to take a final decision on taking part in a stakeholders' conclave about zeroing in on a roadmap for Indian football convened by the Asian Football Confederation in Kuala Lumpur on June 7.

IFA Secretary Utpal Ganguli said the AFIC need not come into the picture at this stage. Ganguly said he would write to the AIFF on Monday asking for a roadmap for promoting Indian football.

Patel had held a meeting with the two clubs on May 7, promising to come out with a note on the roadmap for Indian football.

Ganguli said in his letter he would request AIFF to share its take on the roadmap.

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