BANGALORE: Delhi High Court Judge Vibhu Bakhru has issued a notice to the All India Football Federation on a writ petition filed by Goan Federation Cup champions and twice I-League winners Churchill Brothers 'considering that they must be more inclusive for the welfare of the sport in the country'.
Churchill Brothers writ petition against the AIFF challenging rejection of its first division license came up before the Delhi HC and the matter has been posted for Sept 23 as theAIFF sought time.
"Judge Vibhu Bakhru, taking note of the matter, was pleased to issue notice to the AIFF, considering that the federation should be more inclusive for welfare of the sport in the country. The club was represented by senior counsel Mohan Parasaran leading the arguments, along with advocate Harsh Pathak, arguing for the club on sporting merit of the club and it's contribution to Indian football for four decades," said advocate Gurveen Dhaliwal in a press statement.
According to eyewitnesses present in the court, the Jude came down heavily on the AIFF for 'knit picking' and asked what harm would come to them if Churchill was allowed to play.
In the meanwhile, Goa Football Association has pleaded with the AIFF to provide Churchill Brothers with a lifeline to participate in the I-League.
Churchill Brothers, along with United Sports Club and Mohammedan Sporting, were denied the licence to participate in next season's I-League for their failure to fulfil some requirements of the club licensing criteria. But while the GFA are not disputing the licensing process, it has told the AIFF in no uncertain terms that one of India's champion club should not be left out in the cold.
"The I-League was originally scheduled to commence in October and the licensing process ended in May. But now that the I-League will be played only next year (in January), why cannot the AIFF look at Churchill's case again and if they have fulfilled the criteria, which I am told they have, allow them to play in the top league," asked GFA president ElvisGomes in a letter to the parent body a copy of which is with The New Indian Express.
"The GFA in its executive committee meeting has taken a sympathetic stand taking into account the invaluable contribution of Churchill Brothers to the game in Goa as well as the country. GFA is of the opinion that Churchill Brothers be given another chance by extending the deadline to fulfil the licensing criteria and be re-admitted to the I-League as there is time for the I-League to commence," Gomes has said.
"Please see that we are not disputing the licensing process but only requesting that one of our most valuable constituent clubs, whose patrons have been contributing immensely to football in the state and country, be given a lifeline to continue in the I-League," Gomes wrote.
The GFA has highlighted Churchill's immense contribution to Indian football and their towering presence in national competitions. They have won the I-League twice and emerged runners-up on five occasions.
"Churchill Brothers have featured in 17 of the 18 National Football League and I-League since inception in 1996. The club missed out on playing in India's premier football competition only in 2005-06 when they were relegated to the second division.
They have also won the Goa Professional League seven times and the Durand Cup and IFA shield twice. They have participated five times in the AFC Cup till date," Gomes pointed out.
"The time schedule set out in the licensing criteria is under the premise that the I-League normally commences in the month of September/October and as such the Licensing process ends in June, 2014. The I-league having been postponed to January 17, 2015 there are nearly five months before the same commences. This gives sufficient leeway for acceding to our appeal," the GFA president said in the letter.