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Read Chennai City FC's strong letter to AIFF opposing proposed foreigner increase in I-League

AS THE DECISION regarding the limit on number of foreign players in I-League clubs for the 2017-18 season hangs in a balance, some clubs including Chennai City FC are taking a strong stance regarding increasing that number.

In a meeting with AIFF, 3 prominent top division clubs Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Churchill Brothers asked the Federation to make the number of foreigners in I-League rosters the same as ISL teams; 8 in the squad, out of which 5 can be played on the pitch.

Currently, the number of foreigners per club in I-League is the same as those prescribed by Asian Football Confederation and applied in Asian football competitions: four, out of which at least one is from a country under AFC.

The 3 clubs' demand to increase the number of foreigners in I-League has been met with loud disagreement from most other top flight clubs who believe implementing this rule will make I-League as bad as ISL when it comes to providing a major platform for talented Indian players to showcase themselves.

As the final decision has been handed over to the AIFF Executive Committee, Rohit Ramesh, owner of Chennai City FC, has reiterated his opposition to increasing the number of foreingers in I-League in a strongly argued letter to the Federation.

Here is that letter in its entirety,

"Dear Sir,

We, Chennai City FC, would like to express our vehement denial and consolidated stance in opposition to the proposal of 5+3 foreigners as put forth for consideration on the I-League clubs meeting on 30th June 2017 at the AIFF Football House.

As a club we have always based our existence and philosophy in focused growth on a strong grassroots system and development of talented local players. In our one year of existence in the I-League we have introduced as many as six players into the first team from in and around Tamil Nadu while being competitive in games and a respectable finish in the table. It must be noted that none of these six players had played in the I-League or Indian Super League prior to this season. More I-League clubs such as Minerva, Shillong Lajong and Aizawl have also successfully adopted and implemented such a model.

Introduction of such a rule (eight foreigners) is a drastic step to seriously hamper the progress of our upcoming players who will have their slots taken by foreigners in such a scenario as proposed. Also, it will hamper our clubs long term vision which is ultimately to give a platform to players from the state of Tamil Nadu to make it to the National League. 

We have very strong links to the local communities and harbor ambitious plans for a very strong grassroots system and creation of top infrastructure and facilities for the upcoming players over the next years in which we have already started to invest a considerable amount of physical and financial resources available to us. With an introduction of eight foreigners we shall be forced to cut down on our plans for youth development which will be a very adverse step for the growth of Indian and Tamil Nadu football.

The rule as it stands right now as three slots for foreign players and one for a player of Asian origin is perfectly fine as it helps us get experience into the team for the youngsters to learn from which is important. However any change (addition) in this shall make the balance very uneven and limit the chances for Indian players.

Hence, with all the above mentioned points and clarifications I shall like to convey my strong denial to the proposed rule and make a kind request to you and the committee to keep the best interests of the Indian football and the Indian National Team in mind as we stride towards becoming a strong footballing nation developing our own superheroes.

Rest assured, hoping to leave it to the committee to make the best decision/debate for all the clubs and indian football.

Rohit Ramesh"

The club, which is about to play its second ever season in the top division league in 2017-18, is already facing a lot of expense trying to set up a grassroot network across Tamil Nadu and constructing a new stadium in the outskirts of Chennai. Increasing the number of foreigners will put a bigger financial burden on the club, as they will be forced to sign a higher number of foreign players to remain competitive. Clubs like Shillong Lajong and Aizawl FC, who have gained a reputation for introducing new young local talent to the national level, are also opposed to the proposed rule for similar reasons.

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