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Wish ISL showed flexibility to take Mohun Bagan, East Bengal: AIFF

Stating that there is nothing illegal about the desire to create a league that could be India’s official competition, All India Football Federation senior vice-president Subrata Dutta said the future of football in India would be very tense should some time the franchises decide to opt out of Indian Super League.

football Updated: Jul 04, 2017 16:55 IST
Indian Super League,ISL,All India Football Federation
Mohun Bagan will play in I-League this season.(PTI)

Subrata Dutta, senior vice-president of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), said he wished the Indian Super League (ISL) had shown flexibility and accommodated traditional clubs such as Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. Holding the ISL and I-League simultaneously, as has been agreed to this term, could also hurt the I-League’s status as India’s premier competition, he said.

Stating that there is nothing illegal about the desire to create a league that could be India’s official competition, Dutta though said the future of football in India would be very tense should some time the franchises decide to opt out of the league.

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“If by then, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal have lost sheen because it would be obvious to all that the I-League would, in terms of marketing and maybe broadcast quality, not be in the same category as the ISL, what will happen to the domestic football structure,” asked Dutta, speaking at a seminar organised by the Calcutta Sports Journalists’ Club on Monday.

Mohun Bagan’s finance secretary Debasish Dutta and East Bengal’s assistant-secretary Shanti Ranjan Das Gupta said they were confident the clubs would play an important part in the future of football in India. “Together, we are the game’s watchdog and we will win this battle to stay relevant against teams who are barely three-four years old,” said Das Gupta. Debasish Dutta said they would urge the teams’ fans to show their strength in numbers by paying to watch I-League games this term.

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India football legend Shyam Thapa though took a different route.

“If in the past 50-60 years, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal could have taken 100 steps to develop the game, they have taken, say, one,” said Thapa, a member of the 1970 Asian Games bronze medal winning side and the federation’s technical committee head. He said the clubs should have done more to develop their infrastructure, a thought which found an echo in the audience.

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Thapa also said the ISL deserves credit for reviving an audience for football in places such as Chennai where it had dried up from his time as a player.

First Published: Jul 04, 2017 08:44 IST