Sporting Clube de Goa and Salgaocar made their pulling out of the I-League official on Tuesday, a day before the All India Football Federation (AIFF) scrutinises bids of three new clubs seeking to participate in India’s apex football competition.
FC Bardez from Goa, Minerva of Chandigarh and Chennai City have sought permission to play in the I-League despite the competition facing an uncertain future since a proposal to make the Indian Super League (ISL) the country’s official competition was made last May.
The AIFF’s bid evaluation committee that has, among others, senior vice-president Subrata Dutta, general secretary Kushal Das, I-League CEO Sunando Dhar and a representative from the international professional agency entrusted with evaluating the bids will meet in New Delhi on Wednesday. A decision is likely to be taken on the same day, according to a source in the AIFF.
The idea is to have at least a nine-team I-League, according to the source, but it is possible that more than one new team would be taken in. Relegated last season, Aizawl FC would be allowed to play in the top tier in the competition scheduled to start in January 2017.
In a media release issued on Tuesday evening, Sporting Clube de Goa said they were pulling out of the I-League because they have “strong objections” to the road map for Indian football proposed by the AIFF and its marketing partners. They were referring to the draft shared with all stakeholders in Indian football to have a three-tier league with the top division being closed for now.
Following a discussion of this draft in New Delhi, Salgaocar and Sporting Clube had in June decided to pull out of the I-League. The media release said the AIFF had told the clubs that a “final binding proposal” would be submitted by July 31. On July 28, the AIFF formed a working committee to deal with this. “As to which stakeholders this committee spoke to we are not aware,” said the release.