I-League champions Aizawl FC's spot in the Indian football has come in jeopardy after speculations of a merger between ISL and I-league begun. The club said that they will seek the help of the Prime Minister and resort to protests if still forbidden to defend their newly won title.
Aizawl FC scripted a historic win to clinch the I-League on Sunday but haunted by the idea of being relegated to the second division on accounts of a merger between I-League and the cash-rich Indian Super League. The merger only allows three I-League clubs to participate in the tournament apart from the already existing 8 ISL teams. The AIFF and their commercial partners IMG-Reliance are considering East Bengal FC, Bengaluru FC, and Mohun Bagan worthy of the honour.
The Aizawl FC President Robert
He said,“How can the reigning champions be relegated to second division? We will not accept it, no chance. We will be playing in the Asian competitions. How silly will it be if the India’s champions are playing in Asia but back home, they are not allowed to play in the main league?I will write to the AIFF soon,” reported the Indian Express.
Following his statement, the club wrote a formal application to the AIFF on Tuesday requesting to keep competing in the merged league that is planned to be launched in November this year.
Aizawl FC in a statement stated that the club will seek the assistance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Asian Football Confederation Cup Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa if denied a spot in the merged league. The Mizo side also threatened to start worldwide protests or fast unto death if the AIFF demote's the club to the second division.
“If no positive response is received from AIFF, the club will approach central sports minister, prime minister of India and also president of AFC,” the statement stated.
“If all these steps are failed, the club will have no other choice but will resort to worldwide protests, sitting demonstration near AFC/FIFA offices, picketing of AIFF office, mass hunger strike/fast unto death protest,” the statement read.
Aizawl FC's unexpected crowning as the champions of the I-League has disrupted the AIFF and IMG-R's plans of the merger. The AIFF President Praful Patel is set for a meeting with East Bengal FC and Mohun Bagan on Saturday. However, the AIFF is yet to include the Aizawl club in the talks.
The only statement that threw a bleak ray of light on Aizawl FC's inclusion in the merged league made the AIFF's hesitation of relegating the club clear.
“Aizawl’s win has put the federation in a tight spot. Things should be clearer after Saturday’s meeting. Till then, it’s tough to speculate what will happen,” an AIFF official said.