In a shock move, the AIFF have reinstated Goan club Churchill Brothers back into the I-League for the upcoming season which starts in January 2017. The decision comes on the heels of another Goan club, Dempo FC’s decision to withdraw from the league in protest against the decision of the AIFF to make the Indian Super League the primary footballing league from next year onwards.
Dempo submitted their official decision to withdraw from the league on Wednesday to the AIFF, becoming the third Goan club to do so, following in the footsteps of Salgaocar FC and Sporting Club de Goa. All three clubs were unhappy with the AIFF’s move to restructure the domestic footballing scene in the country. According to the national federation’s new plan, the ISL would become the top tier of Indian domestic football, while the I-League would become the second division.
Churchill Brothers have not appeared in the I-League for over two years, following their failure to meet the AIFF’s licensing norms for participation in the league. They had filed a petition in the Delhi High Court last month seeking their reinstatement to the league. The court then ordered the AIFF to consider the club’s request. Following the withdrawal of the other Goan clubs, the federation seems to have moved quickly to bring in another club from the state by bringing Churchill Brothers back into the league.
“In compliance with the specific direction of the Hon’ble High Court and also Churchill Brothers Sports Club’s commitment to fulfilling the licensing criteria as stipulated in the order dated November 28, 2016, the Committee unanimously decided to allow them to participate in the season 2016-17,” the federation’s emergency committee announced in a press release on their website earlier today.
Even with Churchill Brothers’ reinstatement to the league, the AIFF must bring in at least one more team into the league as per the Asian Football Confederation norms. The federation has called for tenders for new teams to enter the I-League, with a financial decision regarding this to be taken on 11th December. The league starts in just over a month’s time in January.