I-League-ISL merger: Now IFA threatens disruption, breakaway tournament | football | Hindustan Times
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I-League-ISL merger: Now IFA threatens disruption, breakaway tournament

Showing solidarity with Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, IFA general secretary Utpal Ganguli told reporters that the Bengal unit would do whatever it takes to ensure commercial considerations don’t undermine the clubs’ and the state’s heritage in football

football Updated: May 05, 2017 22:30 IST
East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have both received the backing of IFA, who have threatened to start a breakaway tournament if I-League clubs are kept out of the proposed unified top-flight.
East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have both received the backing of IFA, who have threatened to start a breakaway tournament if I-League clubs are kept out of the proposed unified top-flight.(AFP)

One day before officials of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) meet representatives of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in Mumbai to discuss the contentious issues arising out of them being included in a newer, bigger and longer league, the Indian Football Association (IFA) fired a few salvos of its own. And they included a hint of starting a breakaway league.

Showing solidarity with Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, IFA general secretary Utpal Ganguli told reporters that the Bengal unit would do whatever it takes to ensure commercial considerations don’t undermine the clubs’ and the state’s heritage in football.

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Pointing out that IFA, established in 1893, predates the AIFF, which was established in 1937, Ganguli said efforts would be made to get together every I-League team that feels short-changed by the new competition.

“I am still hopeful that a solution will be found but you can’t have a situation where the I-League champions won’t play in the new competition. If required, we will do a new tournament; we will do what it takes to disrupt this arrangement. And that includes seeking the help of our state government. We can’t let the AIFF’s commercial partners almost dictate things,” said Ganguli.

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Ganguli didn’t elaborate how the IFA would have a new tournament saying it would be premature to discuss this now.

Ganguli was reacting to reports of the AIFF’s commercial partners setting Mohun Bagan and East Bengal pre-conditions such as changing their names, logos and team colours to take part in the new league. There have also been reports that Mohun Bagan and East Bengal would have to play outside Kolkata because Indian Super League (ISL) rules stipulate one team from one city and in this case it would be Atletico de Kolkata.

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“If London can have multiple teams in the Premiership, why can’t Kolkata have more than one. We will talk to the owners of ATK and I am sure they will understand,” asked Ganguli.

Last November, Praful Patel, the AIFF president, had referred to the ISL as a disruption that was needed. From Aizawl FC to the IFA, everybody now wants to disrupt the disruption.