The I-League clubs on Monday said they will approach "appropriate courts for relief" if the ISL is made the country's top league, even as the All India Football Federation called it "premature and unfair".
Miffed at AIFF general secretary Kushal Das's public acknowledgement of Indian Super League as the country's main league, representatives of Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Churchill Brothers, Minerva Punjab FC and Gokulam Kerala FC, among others, held a meeting in the capital, where they decided to move courts.
The clubs feel Das' acknowledgement will be rubber-stamped in the AIFF's executive committee meeting on 3 July.
"With media reports indicating that the ISL will be announced as the top division league post an Executive committee meeting scheduled for 3rd July, the I-League clubs are standing united stronger than ever," the clubs said in a joint statement.
"The refusal of the President of AIFF to meet the I-League clubs in spite of several requests and the subsequent vindictive actions specifically towards the I-League clubs, combined with the coercive and blackmailing attitude of FSDL towards AIFF by refusing to make payments pushes the game to an uncertain future."
The apex body promptly responded with a statement of its own while urging the aggrieved clubs to come back to the drawing board.
"The AIFF feels that it is very premature and unnecessary to pre-judge any action of the AIFF, and be commenting on the AIFF Executive Committee meeting on 3 July, 2019 in advance.
"The AIFF as a custodian of Indian Football has always endeavoured to balance to the interest of all stakeholders, and the Hero I-League, and its clubs. To say that the future of Hero I-League, and the clubs will not be taken into consideration for any future decisions of the AIFF would be unfair," the federation said in its statement.
The AIFF said they have invited a top AFC official to India for discussing concerns regarding the I-League.
"As a matter of fact, a decision regarding the Hero Indian Super League becoming a league were also discussed with AFC, and FIFA before it was given recognition, and even for any future decisions AFC and FIFA will be duly consulted. In fact, during the last AFC AGM in Paris, the AIFF asked the AFC General Secretary Dato Windsor John to visit India specifically for Hero I-League issues.
"Furthermore, while the decision of the AIFF Executive Committee cannot be per-judged, it must also be borne in mind that AIFF has already spoken to its commercial partners FSDL about the concerns of the Hero I-League clubs."
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