ONGC, Air India, HAL excluded from next season’s I-League

April 13th, 2011 - 7:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) After missing several deadlines, three I-League clubs - Air India, ONGC and HAL - will finally face the axe from the elite division football league as they failed to meet the club licensing criteria set by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

The three public sector undertakings (PSUs) will not be seen in action from the 2011-12 season as they failed to declare themselves as commercial entities, which was one of the criteria set by pro-league committee of the AFC.

The ad-hoc committee formed by the Asian body met under the chairmanship of AFC president Mohammad Bin Hammam here Wednesday and it was found that of 14 elite division I-League clubs, these three failed to meet the club licensing rules. The clubs won’t be eligible to play in the second division I-League as well.

The clubs were given a December 31, 2010 deadline to fulfill the criteria and submit all the required documents to AFC. A final decision on the eligibility of the I-League as a fully professional league will be taken Thursday.

A top AIFF official, on the condition of anonymity, told IANS that Hammam was unhappy about the fact that three institutional clubs failed to meet the licensing critetria despite assurances from All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel.

The Qatari, who is the third powerful football administrator in the world, felt it was time to come down hard on the erring clubs, which was not allowing the I-League to become a fully professional league.

“After several deadlines, the three clubs couldn’t convert themselves as commercial entities to fulfill the AFC criteria,” the AIFF official told IANS.

The official said that three clubs should take a cue from Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) Football Club, which despite being a PSU declared itself a commercial entity in the second division.

“The licenses are renewed anually. The clubs can still be a part of the second division if they fulfill the licensing criteria by year-end,” the official said.

A top ONGC official said the institutional clubs have always supported Indian football. “ONGC have been the sponsors of the national league for a long time and we have also sponsored the Nehru Cup. This decision is a step backward when PSUs are coming forward to help Indian football.”

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