AIFF To Meet About I-League Entry Following Air India, ONGC Licensing Mishap
The All India Football Federation has called for an exec committee meeting on Tuesday "to decide on a proposal to hand corporate teams direct entry into the I-League," according to Marcus Mergulhao of the TIMES OF INDIA. The recent suspension of I-League club Mohun Bagan "and the uncertainty over institutional teams like Air India and ONGC means there could be as many as three vacant slots to fill" for the next I-League season. The two relegated teams -- assuming both Air India and ONGC finish higher -- will be replaced by two qualifiers from the Second Division I-League. AIFF President Praful Patel "has repeatedly made claims that several corporates are willing to invest into Indian football and have teams of their own." However, neither the AIFF, nor its marketing partner of two years, IMG-Reliance, "have been able to convince any sponsors" (TIMES OF INDIA, 1/12). In Mumbai, Mergulhao wrote this year, fans "could witness the exit" of Air India and ONGC from the I-League if AIFF decides "to get cracking." The AIFF is "fast running out of patience" with both teams, and it is "now almost certain they will be relegated" from the league after the two repeatedly faltered on the club licensing criteria (TIMES OF INDIA, 1/11).