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Rediff.com  » Sports » Unofficial war: 'No Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, no ISL'

Unofficial war: 'No Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, no ISL'

Last updated on: May 27, 2017 20:55 IST

ISL

IMAGE: Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan, cricket legend, Sachin Tendulkar, cricketer Mahender Singh Dhoni and actor and owner of North East United Football team John Abraham at inaugural ceremony of the 3rd edition of Indian Super League, in Guwahati, on Saturday. Photograph: PTI.

Indian football's traditional clubs Mohun Bagan and East Bengal on Saturday joined hands to declare an unofficial war against Indian Super League (ISL), threatening to disrupt the cash-rich event if their three-point demand is not met with.

The Big two clubs refused to budge from their three-point demand and did not submit the bid document for their induction into the ISL.

"We cannot tolerate AIFF's torture anymore. We have just decided one thing in our meeting -- 'No Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, no ISL'. We will not allow ISL here," Mohun Bagan general secretary Anjan Mitra told reporters after a joint meeting with state body, Indian Football Association.

"We will not allow business in the name of football. Money can't buy you everything. Football will be played like football. We want all of your cooperation in such a movement," he added.

The meeting was attended by 18 office bearers each from the two rival clubs whose main demand is the waiver of franchise fee of Rs 15 crore. Apart from that, they have asked for money of the central pool and would like to play the tournament in Kolkata.

The two clubs have been invited to participate in an all stakeholders meeting under the aegis of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on June 7 to discuss the roadmap for the future of Indian football.

But they are yet to decide whether to attend the meeting and instead the IFA is set to shot off a letter to the AIFF on May 29, asking about the "roadmap", which was promised to them by the president Praful Patel during May 7 meeting in Mumbai.

IFA secretary Utpal Ganguli said there was no need of any intervention from the AFC.

"You (AIFF) are yet to share the roadmap, you have to first share it. It's purely a domestic issue between the clubs and the AIFF. It's not an AFC issue.

"We will decide after getting your reply. Hope the AIFF will sort this out after receiving the letter," Ganguli said.

With the logjam prevailing over the induction of two heavyweights in the I-League, the AIFF has mooted the idea of two leagues to run parallel.

“There's no question of a parallel tournament," East Bengal official Debabrata Sarkar said.

"The (May 7) meeting was an eyewash. If Praful babu (AIFF president) wants, we can play ISL. He doesn't want, so it's not happening. In my personal opinion, he's the only hurdle.

"We know we have the support of the millions of our supporters. However it's not the time for protest," Sarkar said.

Asked if I-League remains the official top-tier league, Mohun Bagan financial secretary Debasish Dutta said: "They are promoting ISL in a big way, making it commercially, visually the No. 1 tournament. It's a move to dilute I-League.

"There is no taker for I-League. Why two parallel tournaments? It's a way of compromise. The motive is to have a long tournament after all.

Dutta said they were ready to compromise on venue.

"The Chief Minister (Mamata Banerjee) said 'don't worry about venue we will bring out a solution by talking to three clubs (with Atletico de Kolkata)'. Venue will not be a problem. It's secondary. Primary concern is the franchise fees," he said.

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