New Delhi: All India Football Federation
will discuss in its executive committee meeting on May 7 the
impact on the next I-League of Mahindra United`s decision to
disband itself from competitive football.
I-League Chief Executive officer Sunando Dhar said
Mahindra`s pulling out of the top-flight league was a "big
decision" and AIFF will discuss how to go about it in the next
"Mahindra pulling out was a big decision. But I am not in
a position to say what the AIFF will do. It is too early to
say anything on that. We have an executive committee meeting
on May 7 and will discuss the issue there," Dhar told PTI.
"We have the I-League Committee and the Asian Football
Confederation has also been involved in professionalising
Indian football. So we will take a call on that," he said.
Mahindra`s decision would be a severe setback to AIFF and
national coach Bob Houghton`s plans to make I-League a vehicle
to revive Indian football.
Mainly under Houghton`s insistence, it has been decided
that I-League will be a 16-team affair but with the departure
of a heavyweight like Mahindra the competitiveness of the
top-flight league may take a beating.
Asked about how Mahindra United will be replaced next
year, Dhar said, "We have not decided on the number of sides
to take part in the next I-League. We will decide before the
next season starts."
In a major blow to I-League, Mahindra United today
pulled out of the competitive football to shift its focus
towards developing talent at school level.
"We have decided to get out of competitive soccer and
get into grassroots soccer at schools level. This means at the
end of the I-League we would not be taking part in any
competitive soccer but training school kids to make them
better prospects," said the club`s Chairman Alan Durante in
Mahindra United has been a very successful team since its
establishment in 1962.
The club won National Football League in 2005-06, IFA
Shield (2006, 2008), Durand Cup (1998, 2002, 2008), Federation
Cup (2003, 2006) and Super Cup (2003).