AUGUSTO RODRIGUES | NT Sports Editor
PANAJI: Goa is out of the I-League. After being in the I-league for nine years and realising that it is not proving to be beneficial for Goan football or to their clubs, all three Goan teams – Dempo SC, Sporting Clube de Goa and Salgaocar FC – have decided to withdraw from the next edition of the I-league.
Salgaocar FC and Sporting Clube de Goa have informed All India Football Federation (AIFF) that they are withdrawing from the I-League and Dempo SC are set to join them leaving football in India in a shock.
In a joint press release, Salgaocar Football Club and Sporting Clube de Goa said they have decided to take the “painful decision” to withdraw from the forthcoming edition of I-League. “Dempo SC are also inclined to follow the decision of the two other Goan clubs to withdraw from the I-league,” club owner Shrinivas Dempo told ‘The Navhind Times’ on being contacted for comments.
Dempo said, “It is a sad day for Goan football. But after reading the press release of the other two Goan clubs, I am inclined to agree with them. There is no revenue model for football and with no scope of promotion in the new set-up, it makes no sense. It is not feasible to compete in the ISL system.”
“I am vice president of AIFF by virtue of having been the GFA president and representing the Western India region. I am presenting my views as the owner and promoter of Dempo Sports Club,” said Dempo.
The joint press release of the Salgaocar Football Club and Sporting Clube de Goa raised five main issues that led to their withdrawal decision:
One, the agenda papers released by AIFF on May 17 this year relegates the I-league to a second-tier league and does away with promotion “replacing merit with franchisee fee as the primary criteria for participation in the top league.”
Two, “the ISL, hitherto termed as only a tournament by the AIFF, would leapfrog the I-league to become the nation’s top league , with no relegation.”
Three, despite asking the clubs for their suggestions, the AIFF has not got back to them after a month and the lack of response from AIFF was clear indication that “the fate of the world’s most popular sport in the world’s second most populous nation would be decided unilaterally.” Four, their belief that “the AIFF will enforce the May 17 proposal, which would promote ISL to the nation’s premier tournament with a “pay-to-play” franchisee model with no promotion or relegation.”
Five, the two clubs accuse the AIFF of asking from the clubs what they themselves cannot fulfill – fiscal responsibility. “While demanding professionalism and fiscal responsibility from I-league clubs without itself reflecting the same, the AIFF has still not settled dues to I-league clubs dating as far back as 2008,” they said.
The press release concludes with the two clubs commitments towards football in Goa at the youth and other platforms available in the state and the country.
“Our players who are contracted with us will be with us,” stated Sporting Clube de Goa CEO Victor Fernandes.
Efforts to contact AIFF president Praful Patel, secretary Kushal Das and I-League CEO Sunando Dhar proved futile. However, the AIFF in a media release expressed regret and surprise over the sudden decision of Sporting Clube de Goa and Salgaocar FC to exit the league.