The All India Football Federation’s league committee met on Friday and decided to do away with relegation for last season’s I-League considering the extraordinary circumstances arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic on recommendation of its technical director Isac Doru. Citing examples of other footballing nations from across the world like Netherlands (Eredivisie), Argentina (Liga Profesional de Futbol), Mexico (Liga MX), Romania (Liga 1), Japan (J-League and J2-League, Doru had earlier recommended that no team should be demoted this season.
“The Committee agreed, and recommended to the Executive Committee that no team should be relegated from the Hero I-League, and that Neroca FC be granted permission to compete in the 2021-22 edition of the Hero I-League subject to getting the requisite license as per the decision of the Club Licensing Committee,” the AIFF said in a statement.
Manipur-based club Neroca FC had finished at the bottom of the table in the last I-League.
The federation’s all-powerful executive committee will be taking a final decision on the matter soon. Doru drew examples from 23 countries, including the Netherlands (Eredivisie), Argentina (Liga Profesional de Futbol), Mexico (Liga MX), Romania (Liga 1), Japan (J-League and J2-League), on how they have “frozen relegation” and help the teams in difficult times.
“I have been in conversation with all club coaches during the pandemic and everyone mentioned about the challenges faced — which included short duration for preparation, reduced training hours, difficulties in organising friendly matches, transfer problems among others,” Doru said in the meeting.
Leagues CEO Sunando Dhar said that the AIFF had “approached all the participating clubs and all of them have unanimously mentioned to us in writing that under current circumstances relegation should be frozen.” The committee also discussed about hosting the other events — Indian Women’s League, Futsal Club Championship and I-League Qualifiers — and decided to meet in a month’s time to “assess the health parameters” and zero down on feasible dates for all stakeholders.
AIFF’s senior vice-president and chairman of the league committee, Subrata Dutta urged everyone to take necessary precautions and stay safe amid the pandemic. “Football, at the moment, has come to a halt and we only hope that this pandemic will subside soon which will enable us to plan our calendar likewise,” Dutta said.
The committee also discussed hosting of other events — the Hero Indian Women’s League, the Futsal Club Championship and the Hero I-League Qualifiers — and decided to meet in a month’s time to assess the health parameters arising due of the Covid pandemic, and “zero in on a feasible date for all stakeholders”.