AIFF'S EXECUTIVE COMMITTER HAS approved the recommendations of the League Committee regarding the current football season, which has been stalled since the country went under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The committee's members met via video confenrence and came up with seven suggestions to be forwarded to the AIFF Executive Committee for final approval; which arrived on the morning of Tuesday, 21st April.
Apart from concluding the season, Mohun Bagan, who ensured numerical certainty of winning the I-League 2019-20 when they beat Aizawl FC on 10th March, are now officially recognized as the league champions.
The official recommendations from the League Committee regarding this read,
"1. The Committee recommended that the 2019-20 season be deemed to be concluded.
2. That Mohun Bagan be declared as the Hero I-League champion for the 2019-20 season as they stand atop current standings in the Hero I-League until the point of suspension on March 14, 2020.
Furthermore, Mohun Bagan with 39 points from 16 matches enjoy a point difference which is insurmountable by any other team even if all other matches had been played and concluded as a normal course of action."
Other recommendations regarding the I-League include scrapping relegation for this season since the relegation race was not brought to a conclusion on the pitch, and the distribution of prize money,
"3. With regards to the remaining clubs, and noting the concerns expressed by many of them in writing, the League Committee recommended the remaining prize money (apart from the champion’s prize money) be equally divided among the remaining 10 participating clubs.
4. The Committee also recommended that there be no relegation from the Hero I-League 2019-20 season."
Some of the most important recommendations from the meeting concerned the lower divisions and youth football. The clubs competing in 2nd Division League hoping to get promoted to I-League received a major setback when the matches were suspended, and the League Committee asked the Federation to try to figure out a way to have a shorter version of the competition early next season that gives them a chance to get promoted to I-League.
The youth leagues have been scrapped for the season, and academies have been given an extension to file their application for AIFF accreditation,
"5. In reference to the Hero 2nd Division, the Committee waits for approval over regulatory matters from the AIFF Executive Committee and the Asian Football Confederation to understand the feasibility of organising a shorter duration tournament next season for qualification to the Hero I-League 2020-21.
6. Meanwhile, with nearly 500 matches yet to completed in various youth leagues, the Committee felt it would be an injustice for kids and youth players to be compromising with social distancing, and hence, recommended to stand by the conclusion of all youth leagues in the current season – the Hero sub-junior League, the Hero Junior League, the Hero Elite League, and the U-17 Khelo India Girls League – and start afresh from 2020-21 season.
7. Understanding the current crisis, the Committee felt it needed to be flexible as per AIFF Academy Accreditation is concerned -- as the primary objective is to increase participation of clubs and players. Hence, the Committee recommended for an extension of the deadline for submission of the requisite documentation after the ongoing lockdown is revoked."
With the recommendations now accepted by the AIFF Executive Committee, the top brass of the Federation have their work cut out on the long road to return to normalcy that Indian football, along with other sports in the country and around the world, are trying hard to navigate.