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Letters for the Future: Mohun Bagan reveal AIFF's proposed new roadmap for I-League and ISL

MOHUN BAGAN HAVE REVEALED to the press the express details of what went down in the meeting between the representatives of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan clubs and the AIFF President Praful Patel on Saturday.

In a letter to the AIFF released to the press, the club summarised the discussions that were held and the promises that were made by the AIFF President to the clubs' officials. 

The letter lists Mr Patel suggesting that I-League and ISL should be played parallelly, in reply to which the clubs suggested that a 4 month window be granted to ISL and I-League each so that they can run separately. It also suggests that Mr Patel promised that the coveted place in the AFC Champions League will remain with the top division champions - which is the I-League winners - and not be given to the ISL winner, a competition which is likely to remain a private tournament under the current set of proposals.

There is no mention of any Super Cup tournament that would feature top clubs from both ISL and I-League, with the ACL spot going to the winner of that cup competition rather than the top division league champions as is the AFC norm.

The letter also claims that Mr Patel had promised that the ISL and I-League will be merged within the next 3 years.

Here is the letter in its entirety,

"To,
Mr. Praful Patel
President
All India Football Federation

Respected Sir,

Kind reference is invited to our meeting held on 6th May 2017 at Trident Hotel, Mumbai, in presence of the following persons with regards to the build up of a roadmap for future and improvement of Indian Football.
Mr Praful Patel, President, AIFF
Mr Subrata Dutta, Senior Vice President, AIFF
Mr Kushal Das, General Secretary, AIFF
Mr Sunando Dhar, CEO, I League
Mr Srinjoy Bose, Director, United Mohun Bagan Football Team Pvt Ltd.
Mr Debashis Dutta, Director, United Mohun Bagan Football Team Pvt Ltd.
Dr Pronab Dasgupta, President, Kingfisher East Bengal Team
Dr Santi Ranjan Dasgupta, Director, Kingfisher East Bengal Team
Mr Debrabata Sarkar, Director, Kingfisher East Bengal Team
In accordance to the above mentioned meeting, we would like to highlight the main points which were discussed
during our conversation .

1. You had distinctively stated in the course of our meet that the I­League will continue to be the official League of the Nation.

2. The winner of I­League will continue to participate in AFC Champions League under the statutes and auspices of AFC and AIFF.

3. You also raised your attention to the fact that for the improvement of Indian Football, the duration of Indian Super League should be expanded to a longer period and it should run parallel with I­League.

4. On this, we made a suggestion that I­League and ISL tournament should be played for 4 months each separately.

5. We appreciate your acceptance that the Broadcast and Production of the I­League should be improved. You also mentioned that the quality of production of I­League has gone down drastically and needs proper redressal.
Also, the production and broadcast should be at par as ISL which will in turn have a wholistic impact for teams to rope in quality sponsor for them, which will also be good for the brand I­League.

6. You have agreed that both I League and ISL will be equally nurtured by AIFF as a way forward for Indian football.

7. You have said at the meeting that you will allot some financial help from the central pool for I League clubs.

8. You have assured that the merger between I­League and Indian Super League tournament will be done within the next three years.

9. We are confident about your words and commitment. We are sure that as you had mentioned that after you come back from the AFC meeting, you will share the blueprint of the road ahead for the betterment of Indian Football.

It was a pleasure meeting you and discussing the prospects of Indian Football at length in order to put things in the right direction from the upcoming football season. We now look forward to receive the blueprint/roadmap as mentioned above.

Thanking you
Warm Regards
Srinjoy Bose"
Director"

The letter received a reply from AIFF, with AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das writing on behalf of Mr Patel. The reply makes it clear that the specifics of the future roadmap will only be clear after the AFC Congress, but does not dispute any of the details mentioned in the letter,

"Dear Sir,
I am replying to your mail on behalf of our President ,Mr. Praful Patel afer discussing with him.

We were happy to meet you as requested by you on 6th May 2017 at the Trident, Mumbai.

While there were some fruiĔul discussions and suggesĕons, we can give the final roadmap only a├er consultaĕon with the AFC.

As discussed, we must find the most appropriate soluĕon for the beĥerment and improvement of Indian football.

Best Regards
Kushal Das, General Secretary"

This indicates that the Kolkata based clubs are more or less happy with the proposed arrangements which keeps the I-League as the undisputed top division league and does not forcefully relegate any top division club in favour of inducting ISL franchises into a newly made top division without promotion and relegation, thereby preserving the open league system observed in the national league pyramid; while also promises a merger between ISL and I-League by 2020. Apart from that it also assures that I-League and ISL will be equally promoted and receive quality television broadcast; currently something that is only given to ISL by the AIFF commercial partners IMG-Reliance.

The intention behind publishing this letter seems to be to make sure AIFF stay true to the promises made in the meeting and not deviate from it in the AFC Congress. The main concern for the I-League clubs in question here is the top division status for the league, keeping promotion-relegation in the existing top league and not letting go of the coveted spot in the AFC Champions League for the national champions.

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