The Coronavirus has enforced a lockdown in till at least till 3rd May, as declared by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The I-League was suspended as a result of the lockdown.
The I-League panel and the All India Football Federation’s executive committee met via a video conference yesterday. The meeting was held to decide the fate of the I-League amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Mohun Bagan had already clinched the I-League title with four rounds still left to be played. They have 39 points from 16 matches. There was a three-way race among East Bengal, Minerva Punjab (both on 23 points from 16 matches) and Real Kashmir (22 points from 15 matches) for the runners-up slot. But unfortunately, the AIFF suspended the I-League on 14th March on the directives of the government.
We sincerely thank AIFF League committee and @ChennaiCityFC,@minervapunjabfc, @Churchill_Goa,@GokulamKeralaFC,@NerocaFC,@officialtraufc,@AizawlFC,@realkashmirfc for showing exemplary sportsman spirit to formally acknowledge Mohun Bagan as deserving champions of I-League 2019-20 pic.twitter.com/eSojDPgzoa— Mohun Bagan (@Mohun_Bagan) April 18, 2020
AIFF senior vice president Subrata Dutta chaired the meeting, which was also attended by general secretary Kushal Das and I-League CEO Sunando Dhar, among others. The I-League panel recommended the following things:
1. The Committee recommended that the 2019-20 season be deemed to be concluded.
2. Mohun Bagan to 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 14th March 2020.
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. It is a huge relief for the likes of Aizawl FC and Neroca FC. At the time of suspension of the league, Indian Arrows were at the bottom of the 11-team league table, while Neroca (19 points from 17 matches) and Aizawl FC (16 points from 15 matches) were at 9th and 10th, respectively. Indian Arrows, the developmental side of the AIFF, would not have been relegated in any case.
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 required documentation after the ongoing lockdown is revoked.
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