Coronavirus: What happens to 2nd Division I-League clubs if all leagues are cancelled?
While the I-League clubs are in a slightly better position, it is the second division clubs who stand to lose the most.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing on Tuesday morning that the 21-day lockdown, imposed to contain the novel coronavirus, will be extended to May 3rd, hopes of the football season resuming in India are all but over.
The coronavirus pandemic caused the world to come to a standstill, and football, like everything else, was put on hold. The I-League, 2nd Division I-League and the youth leagues (U13, U15) were all brought to a sudden halt, suspended indefinitely.
The football season in India ends on May 31st and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has already stated that it is unwilling to stretch the current season past that date. Even if the lockdown is lifted, there are no guarantees as to when sporting activities can resume and as such, all clubs are preparing for the worst case scenario.
While the I-League clubs are in a slightly better position, it is the second division clubs who stand to lose the most. Even the preliminary rounds are yet to get over and clubs like Mohammedan Sporting, ARA FC, Bengaluru United could end up losing all the money they invested for the season.
In this situation, the AIFF could offer a solution of playing a qualifying tournament before next season’s I-League with teams who could have qualified for the final stage, as per a report in the Times of India.
“At this stage, we cannot declare the second division as null and void. Teams have invested heavily and for them, the only reward is promotion to the I-League. We hope the clubs will come to an agreement,” an AIFF official was quoted saying by TOI.
“Second division teams who will play the (I-League) ‘qualifiers’ will be allowed to register new players, just like what happens in the AFC Cup. The players could be different after completing the formalities (during the transfer window from June to August) but the participating teams remain the same,” said the official.
The I-League committee will reportedly have a discussion over the next few days before coming to a final decision.