New Delhi: All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Thursday decided to discontinue its under-23 developmental side, Pailan Arrows, because of “financial and infrastructural problems”, thus reducing the I-League into a 14-team affair.
The reduction of one team will also ease the pressure on AIFF to complete the I-League in time, and give the promised 10-weeks slot to its marketing partners for the smooth conduct of its franchisee-based league.
With only three weeks to go for the start of the I-League, the decision could land the Calcutta team’s 28 players in deep trouble. Many of the players would find it difficult to relocate to a new team.
Sources said the continuous non-payment of dues by the sponsors forced the federation to take this drastic step. However, an AIFF official claimed several I-League clubs have already agreed to take some Arrows players on loan.
“At least 11 footballers are going on loan to teams like Mohun Bagan, Dempo and Pune FC. We are trying for others also. In case they don’t get teams, we will pay their salaries as per the contracts.”
A technical official of Arrows, however, said no assurance had been given to the support staff. “We are not sure what will happen to us. Some of us had left permanent jobs to join Arrows.”