'AFC accepted our idea of one pan-India league'
Mohun Bagan on Wednesday said it found the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on the same page in their demand of having a unified league even as the Indian football stakeholders meeting at the Asian apex body's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday failed to break the ISL logjam.
In what seemed to be a blow for the Indian Super League, the AFC has "accepted" the idea of having one pan-India league, according to a statement issued by Mohun Bagan following the meeting where the club was represented by its director Debashis Dutta. Mohun Bagan have also requested AIFF to convene a meeting on June 12 as proposed by AFC to discuss this year's league structure. The meeting had an in-depth discussion on the current scenario of Indian football structure, the release said. "Our director (Dutta) made presentation elaborating the history and legacy of our club and explained the performance of the National team, stressing on the importance of having one league," the release stated. "The AFC general secretary (Dato' Windsor John) and other members present at the meeting took note of it and accepted that century old clubs (Mohun Bagan and East Bengal) should be given due respect and diligence. They also agreed that their contributions and commitment to the game for such a long period cannot be ignored," it continued.
"There is a need to find a permanent solution, and AIFF along with all concerned should work collectively to develop India's football structure. They also accepted the idea of having one league. Further deliberating on the proceedings, the Mohun Bagan statement said one league system would enhance the performance of the national team and would help in developing players and coaches.
"AFC urged the AIFF to conduct a meeting with all I- League clubs to discuss this year's league structure," it said.
"AFC further elaborated that a road map should be made immediately after the conclusion of the U-17 FIFA WC for next year leaguestructure." The AFC's intervention had come after impasse prevailed over the inclusion of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal into the lucrative ISL for the upcoming season.
The big two clubs of Indian football are adamant on their demand of not paying the hefty franchise fee of Rs 15 crore as they have also sought money from the central pool. Mohun Bagan later released a statement, asserting that they have requested the AIFF to convene a meeting on June 12 as proposed by the AFC to discuss this year's domestic league structure.