All India Football Federation (AIFF) and ten I-League have issued a joint statement regarding the future of football in the country. A meeting was held between AIFF and members of the ten I-League clubs. AIFF President Praful Patel, General Secretary, AIFF, Kushal Das, and, the CEO of I-League, Sunanda Dhar were present in the meeting. “AIFF and the I-League Clubs have agreed and will work together to find a solution to all issues including the calendar, scheduling, broadcasting, and the continuation of the Hero I-League for a defined period, till the roadmap is ascertained in a time-bound manner in consultation with FSDL, and the AFC,” the joint statement read.

“A lot of other meaningful issues were also simultaneously discussed, and it is hoped that all issues regarding the future of the Hero I-League vis-a-vis the Hero Indian Super League will be resolved shortly,” the statement added. AIFF also said that the I-League clubs were happy to engage in the discussion with Praful Patel. “The I-League clubs were happy to have engaged in the discussions which will pave the way for a resolution of the pending issues, and thanked the AIFF President for his understanding, and patient hearing,” AIFF said.

Seven I-League clubs had issued a statement in June this year, in which they threatened to move court against the AIFF if they announced ISL as the top tier of Indian domestic club football system. The seven clubs included East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers, Minerva Punjab, Aizawl FC, NEROCA and Gokulam Kerala. “We, the United I-League clubs met today in New Delhi to discuss our future course of action in light of the latest developments in Indian football. With media report indicating that the ISL being announced as the top division league post an Executive Committee meeting scheduled for July 3, 2019, the I-League clubs are standing united stronger than ever,” the joint statement of the seven clubs had said.

“Quess East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers, Minerva Punjab, Aizawl FC, NEROCA and Gokulam Kerala FC have all decided to approach the appropriate courts for relief at the earliest as soon as any such decision announced by AIFF,” the statement added. However, AIFF also had issued a statement regarding this matter and they said it was very premature on the part of seven clubs to pre-judge any action of the footballing authority.

“The AIFF reacting to the joint statement of I-League clubs feel that it is very premature and unnecessary to pre-judge any action of the AIFF, and be commenting on the AIFF Executive Committee meeting on July 3, 2019, in advance,” AIFF had said in an official statement. “The AIFF as a custodian of Indian Football has always endeavoured to balance to the interest of all stakeholders, and the Hero I-League, and its clubs. To say that the future of Hero I-League and the clubs will not be taken into consideration for any future decisions of the AIFF would be unfair,” the statement added.

These clubs were involved in a standoff with AIFF earlier this year during the Super Cup. The clubs of I-League refused to participate in the tournament unless Praful Patel decided to meet with them. “The refusal of the President of AIFF to meet the I-League clubs in spite of several requests and the subsequent vindictive actions specifically towards the I-League clubs combined with the coercive and blackmailing attitude of FSDL towards AIFF by refusing to make payments pushes the game to an uncertain future,” joint statement of seven clubs had said.

But AIFF said that President Praful Patel agreed to meet with the seven I-League clubs, but it was the clubs who decided to opt out of the Super Cup, resulting in huge losses for AIFF. “Despite the assurance, the clubs did not meet the President, and rather prematurely pulled out of the Super Cup, causing huge financial losses and negativity for a tournament for they had confirmed their participation. It must be mentioned that post pulling out of the Super Cup no appointment has been sought by the clubs till date,” AIFF had said.