New Delhi: In an apparent softening of stand on the Mohun Bagan suspension issue, the AIFF today mulled reducing the two-year penalty to just one year during a meeting with former players of the iconic club, according to a Trinamool Congress Member of Parliament.
TMC Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Ghosh, who led a delegation of former Mohun Bagan players, said that there was talk of Mohun Bagan coming back in the I-League with a one-year suspension and after playing second division.
Ghosh was accompanied by former Mohun Bagan footballers Manas Bhattacharya and Bidesh Bose and met AIFF general secretary Kushal Das at the federation headquarters.
"The general secretary talked about reducing the ban to one year and Mohun Bagan playing the second division I-League. We said don`t force Mohun Bagan to playing the second division. We told that the ban should be reduced and the AIFF can impose financial penalties," Gosh told PTI.
"We also requested to allow Mohun Bagan to play from the Round 17 (of I-League) onwards. Deduct the points from the East Bengal match onwards," said Ghosh who presented Das with the letter of support signed by Mohun Bagan fans and former footballers.
He said that Mohun Bagan fans and former players were not in favour of a confrontation with the AIFF and the national federation should reconsider its decision and reduce the suspension.
"Mohun Bagan is not only a club. It`s an institution with historical legacy. The fans should not be punished for no fault of theirs. We have appealed to the AIFF that they can impose financial penalties but please give back football to the fans," he said.
"We are confident and hopeful that the AIFF will take all these into account while taking up the appeal by Mohun Bagan in its Executive Committee Meeting and reduce the suspension," he added.
The AIFF has slapped Mohun Bagan with a two-year ban from the I-League besides also scrapping their league engagements this season for abandoning the violence-marred Kolkata derby against East Bengal on December 9.
They will have to play in the second division to come back in the I-League first division after playing in the second division, thereby effectively banning them for four years from the I-League top division.
Ghosh also lambasted the Mohun Bagan officials who took the decision to pull the club out of the second half in the derby.
"Four people -- the club president, secretary, assistant secretary and finance secretary took the decision not to field the team in the second half and they were not even on the ground. How would they know the situation at the ground," Ghosh asked.
"Because of the wilful action of these four officials, the club, players and the fans are suffering. We submitted the letter of support from thousands of fans and former players after a signature campaign," he said.
"We have told the Mohun Bagan officials who would present their case before the Executive Committee of the AIFF tomorrow to shed their ego and plead their case for a reduction in the suspension," he added.
Asked if his party would use political clout by speaking to AIFF President Praful Patel, who is also a top Nationalist Congress Party leader and Union Minister, Ghosh said, "Patel knows everything that has been going on. We sought a meeting with Das only and we are hopeful that AIFF would reduce the suspension."