Asking for meeting with AIFF President has cost us 10 lakhs, asserts Ranjit Bajaj

Asking for meeting with AIFF President has cost us 10 lakhs, asserts Ranjit Bajaj

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After the AIFF’s disciplinary committee imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh on five I-League clubs, Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj has lashed out at the federation by saying that asking for a meeting with the president has cost them Rs 10 lakh. Bajaj also termed the order by the AIFF “immature”.

Aizawl FC, Minerva Punjab FC, Churchill Brothers, Gokulam Kerala FC and NEROCA FC had all decided not to take part in the Super Cup knock-out football tournament in March-April after their request to meet All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel went unheard. Now, the disciplinary committee of the federation has imposed a fine of 10 lakh rupees on all these clubs for their absence from the tournament.

“The Committee took a very adverse view on the actions of the Clubs and reasons for their non-participation in the Hero Super Cup 2019, and unanimously decided that the clubs have indulged in activities which tantamount to holding the National Federation to ransom and ridiculing it and its officials openly through media or otherwise and that too on presumptive assumptions,” the AIFF statement read.

Meanwhile, after the decision of the committee, the owner of I-League club Minerva Punjab FC Ranjit Bajaj has stated that it is an immature statement by the federation and also mentioned that asking for a meeting with the president has cost them a lot.

“Asking for a meeting with the President has cost us 10 lakhs. If you actually read the order, it is an immature statement/decision because the main contention was that they have charged us for not participating in the Super Cup. In the regulation of the Super Cup, it actually says that if you withdraw before the commencement of the cup there is no problem. They have said that they can’t decide on the commencement issue that will be decided by the executive committee. So, the fine that they are putting is basically for “not behaving properly,” Bajaj told SportsCafe.

“This was never the charge on us before the charge always was that we didn’t participate in the Super Cup and the action to be taken according to the rules of Super Cup. They have charged basically for not playing in the spirit of the game. We are going to be appealing the decision as this is another way of trying to kill the clubs.”

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The statement released by the AIFF also added that East Bengal were fined only five lakhs and Mohun Bagan were not fined despite their absence from the tournament due to two separate reasons. 

According to the statement, “The club [East Bengal] cannot be held guilty of indiscipline or misconduct. It is the sponsors of the club (Quess) who committed so and intended to jeopardise the integrity of the competition. Balancing upon the degree of culpability the Committee felt that in order to reduce the humiliation upon East Bengal, quantum of fine should be less than the other clubs and imposed penalty of Rs 5 lakh. As regards Mohun Bagan, since they had withdrawn from the competition, and had also not registered their players, the matter will be referred to Arbitration as per the provisions of the Participation Agreement.”

Bajaj has alleged that the AIFF is trying to pit the clubs against each other by imposing different punishments for different clubs for the same offence that they committed. 

“They are supposed to be our parents and they are supposed to make sure that we grow. They take away our only breath which is money. They have done a smart thing, they have tried to play the clubs against each other by fining East Bengal only 5 lakh and fining Mohun Bagan nothing. They did so that other clubs will talk against Mohun Bagan and East Bengal and the unity can be broken,” the Minerva Punjab owner explained.

“All clubs should be treated equally, that is the only pain of Indian football. When ISL is concerned, they have got more money and here Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are legacy clubs. This shows the bias towards certain clubs and indifference towards others.” 

Bajaj also talked about the “unfair” treatment by the federation towards the I-League clubs. He said that all the clubs are under financial stress and the national body is just “adding nails to the coffin”. He also informed that the AIFF has reduced the stipend for the clubs from 70 lakh rupees to 40 lakh rupees this year without a proper reason.

“All the clubs are already reeling under financial stress, they are just, one by one, putting more nails in the coffin. This is one more nail in the coffin for the clubs. We know we are getting no sponsors, we are having no broadcast, no TV time, all these things make a difference. Every little rupee makes a difference as there is no revenue coming. They have reduced our stipend by 30 lakhs without assigning any reason,” Bajaj concluded.

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