CHENNAI : The inevitable has finally happened. With more and more coronavirus cases cropping up in the country every day, it was only a matter of time before the I-League, which had been suspended with a number of matches still left to play, was cancelled. That happened on Saturday with a meeting of the All India Football Federation’s league committee deciding to cancel the rest of the season and award the title to runaway leaders Mohun Bagan.
Members of the committee, chaired by AIFF vice president Subrata Dutta, met via video conferencing. Apart from cancelling the remaining matches, the committee decided to award the title to Mohun Bagan. The Kolkata club had already ensured the title with no other team having a mathematical chance of catching them up. They will be entitled to the full prize money that the champions are supposed to receive. There had been reports that there was opposition to Bagan being given the title on the grounds that the entire season should be cancelled. “Only one team opposed handing over the trophy to Mohun Bagan,” said an official who participated in Saturday’s meeting. “The remaining ten clubs were unanimous in their assertion that Bagan should be given the title.”
The remaining prize money will be divided equally between the other teams, a statement put out by the AIFF said. There will also be no relegation from the league this season. While the I-League second division has been abandoned, promotion may still be possible with the league exploring the possibility of ‘the feasibility of organising a shorter duration tournament next season for qualification to the Hero I-League 2020-21’. All the youth leagues for the current season — the sub-junior league, the junior league, the elite league, and the U-17 Khelo India girls league — have also been cancelled.
With the league now officially cancelled, the focus of the I-League teams will finally be on ensuring that their coaches and players reach their home countries safely. Most of the clubs still have their foreign coaches and foreign player contingent with them. This daily had earlier reported on how the likes of Chennai City FC coach Akbar Nawas, Gokulam Kerala coach Fernando Valera and Real Kashmir coach David Robertson were all stuck with their respective teams. However, many of these players and coaches will have to wait a bit more as most clubs feel it is impractical to send personnel back to their own countries before the lockdown ends.