Under the present circumstances, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is considering several possibilities, including the cancellation of I-League in a worst-case scenario, according to a report by Times of India. In fact, the football body has held meetings with clubs to discuss all the possibilities over the last few days.
As per the report, it will require two weeks for the AIFF to resume the league once things are back to normal and approximately three weeks to complete the remaining round of fixtures.
However, with the entire country under lockdown at least till April 14, possibilities are that the I-League may be cancelled.
In fact, some club owners have apparently told the AIFF that the best call would be to cancel the league. If the league does resume, quite unlikely given the circumstances, some clubs will play the remaining matches with all-Indian squads.
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“For now, everything is closed till April 14, and depending on the situation, we will take a call closer to that. Once the restrictions are lifted, we cannot start the league the next day. Teams need to train, travel arrangements need to be made and the grounds – not maintained for some time now – have to be in shape. Our season officially ends on May 31 and we cannot play beyond that,” I-League CEO Sunando Dhar was quoted saying.
Now what happens if the league is cancelled? Of course, Mohun Bagan have already sealed the title and there won’t be the debate that, for example, the Premier League is having. The runners up don’t get any continental spots and no team would be relegated either. But there might be complications with the prize money for teams depending on their position on the points table.
The second division I-League clubs also stand to suffer a lot if the season stands cancelled. For teams like Mohammedan Sporting, Garhwal FC, ARA FC and Bengaluru United, promotion to the top-tier is the ultimate goal, something they chase right from the start. But if there is no relegation, then there is no promotion either.
“We cannot say the second division is null and void (at this stage). The state leagues were over in September and for five months, they have prepared and paid their players with the league in mind. It’s a sensitive matter. Maybe closer to April 15, we will have a conference call with everyone and take a collective decision. We all love football but at this moment, saving lives is more important,” Dhar said.