New Delhi: The I-League this season will have 13 teams instead of 14 after Mumbai Tigers today pulled out of the country`s premier football tournament in a surprise move.
Mumbai Tigers, owned by Dubai-based Dodsal Group, was roped in by the All India Football Federation with much fanfare as one of the two new teams in the league.
The sudden move came less then 20 days before the start of the league.
"Citing unavoidable circumstances, Mumbai Tigers have decided not to take part in the 2013-14 Season of I-League, requesting further for their involvement in the 2nd Division League for this season," the AIFF said in a statement.
"The Mumbai based Club informed the AIFF that they are not ready at the moment to participate in the First Division and need more time to prepare for participation in the I-League," it said.
I-League Chief Executive told PTI that the league will now have just 13 teams.
"We did not have any idea that this could be coming. Suddenly they (Mumbai Tigers) sent a letter to us that they are not ready to play in the I-League this season. Only 13 teams will be there in the I-League this year," he said.
He said there would not be any need to draw a new I-League schedule after the pull out by Mumbai Tigers.
"There will be no need for new fixtures to be prepared. Those matches involving Mumbai Tigers will be removed in the schedule already drawn up," Dhar said.
Asked about the Rs 3 crore to be given each year by the club to the AIFF for fielding its team in the I-League, Dhar said, "The money was not to be given to the AIFF. It was to be invested by the club for infrastructure development."
Asked if the AIFF would take action against Mumbai Tigers for pulling out of the I-League, Dhar said, "That is for the AIFF Executive Committee to decide."
In a bid to bring in corporates to Indian football, the AIFF had allowed Jindal Steel Works and Dodsal Group to field teams in the I-League from this year onwards. JSW has recently launched Bengaluru Football Club to play in the I-League.