AIFF meet to emerge from legal trap of two leagues

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The debate over which one among the Indian Super League and the I-League will be football’s top flight premier league in the country has trapped the All India Football Federation in a potential legal tangle.

Going against the ISL might amount to the breach of a contractual obligation. Pushing I-League to the second division would cause a conflict of withdrawing the rights vested and exercised by the party (I-League).

All-India Football Federation President Praful Patel’s formula of amicable co-existence of both the leagues has failed to invoke the desired response from either ISL or I-League. While the I-League is not ready to give up the Asia Cup Championship representation, ISL is reportedly not ready to settle for AIFF’s contractual commitment for India’s Premier League status.

Amidst this conflict, the executive committee of the AIFF will be meeting in New Delhi today (Tuesday) to take a decision regarding the status of the two leagues.

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The committee, headed by Patel, is scheduled to review Clause No. 5.25 of the Master Rights Agreement (MRA) signed between the Federation and its marketing partner in 2010, national daily Times of India has reported.

Marketing partners want the clause, that shall grant ISL the status of the “senior most, top and prestigious” league of the country, to be enforced in letter and spirit without any further delay. While, I-League clubs have threated to take legal course if they were denied the status of India’s premier football league.0

The AIFF, paper reports quoting sources, has no option but to honour the contract with the commercial partners. “As always, representatives of the marketing partners will be present during the meeting but they cannot speak. So they have sent the federation a letter which states that AIFF might be in serious legal trouble if they don’t honour the contract,” the source is reported as saying.

The commercial partner as reported earlier has also withheld two installments of the rights fee due to the AIFF, forcing the federations to a severe fund crunch. “The commercial partners have assured that they will release the funds as soon as we honour the deal. Once we get the money, we can clear the dues of these clubs,” the source has revealed.

The federation, in turn, has not been able to clear the dues of the I-League clubs and Second Division champions TRAU FC.

The AIFF executive will have a lot of brainstorming to do at the meeting in New Delhi. However, whatever decision intakes on the status of India’s premier football league, a legal threat looms large.

Meanwhile, the I-League clubs have also written to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to apprise him about the prevailing crisis in Indian football.

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