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Patel punctures CFL hopes
Patel

Calcutta: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel, on Sunday, came clear on the imbroglio with the clubs over apex body’s 40-match cap for an I-League player. He said that the executive committee of the federation had already sorted out the matter after considering every option.

“The rule that a player will be allowed to play 40 matches in a season is upheld. However, if a player plays less than 45 minutes in a match it will not be counted,” said Patel, who was in town to sign a five-year deal with the Pailan Group for the AIFF under-23 squad, the Indian Arrows.

This will have a disastrous effect on the Calcutta Football League, as clubs will look to preserve their players for the I-League. Sensing that the decision will take the sheen out of the already struggling CFL, the IFA had requested the apex body to implement the rule from 2012.

For the record, the Goan league also will be badly affected by the AIFF decision.

Patel though differed. “We know the state associations and the clubs will be hit hard. But this decision was taken after keeping the local interest in mind,” asserted Patel.

Talking about the Indian Arrows, the Union heavy industries and public enterprises minister sounded excited.

“When the team started their journey, everyone was sceptical about them. But by finishing ninth, the boys achieved an important milestone. I might not be surprised if the team goes on to win the I-League in a couple of years,” Patel said at the Pailan World School campus.

“Calcutta is the Mecca of Indian football. I would like to see this team develop into an important team in the I-League and have great fan following like that of the other clubs in the city,” Patel added.

With eight of the Indian Arrows players rumoured to return to their mother clubs after playing for a year on ‘loan’, Patel said he would request the I-League clubs to let their former players stay at Indian Arrows for one more year for the betterment of the sport.

“We are going to speak to the clubs and request them if they could spare the players for one more year. But it will not be mandatory.

“I believe that the clubs should pay heed to our request. After all, it’s for the development of the sport,” Patel said.

The AIFF boss said that although Indian Arrows have now got a new sponsor, the relegation rule would not apply to the team.

Patel did not sound worried about the fact that Mahindra United and JCT were no longer there. “They closed shops for their own reasons. I can assure you that in the coming months, there will be a scramble for ownership of football clubs.”

The AIFF is also planning to refurbish the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium.

“We want to convert the Rabindra Sarovar into a world class stadium. It shall be made at any cost, be it Rs. 100 crore or Rs. 150 crore. We are waiting for the formalities to get completed,” Patel revealed.

In the evening, the Santosh Trophy-winning Bengal side played an exhibition match against Pailan Indian Arrows. Francis Xavier scored the winner for Bengal

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