New Delhi : The Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal could still play in the 2011-12 I-League, even if they fail to meet the December 31 deadline for fulfilling
AFC`s club licensing guidelines, informed sources in the AIFF.
They two clubs will, however, be out of contention for AFC Champions League berth if they fail to fulfill the said norms.
(For eg. East Bengal have qualified for AFC Cup by virtue of winning the Federation Cup. Now if they happen to do well and qualify for Champions League, they can only play if the licensing norms are fulfilled by December 31).
"They won`t be allowed to take part in the Champions League if they fail to fulfill the criteria. But the AFC could show leniency as far as playing in the I-League is concerned,"
a source told to reporters.
According to sources in the AIFF, the AFC committee headed by director of competitions, Tokuaki Suzuki, has asked the two Kolkata clubs to have separate sponsors and bosses or face elimination from the 2011-12 league.
UB Groups have major stakes in both the clubs and have Vijay Mallya as their chairman, which is not in accordance with the AFC rules.
Expressing hope that the clubs would sort out their sponsorship issue, I-League CEO Sunando Dhar said, "We are sure they would work out a solution. A report (highlighting
the shortcomings of the clubs) has already been sent to them," said Dhar.
Chirag United, JCT, Pune FC and Mumbai FC received the green light from the AFC committee.
As it is mandatory for clubs to become separate entities, PSUs like Air India, HAL and ONGC failed.
Salgaocar, Viva Kerala and AIFF XI also failed to qualify as they did not submit their audited profit and loss statements to the AFC.