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Blow to Md. Sp. & United

New Delhi: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on Wednesday reduced the I League to a 10-team affair in the 2014-15 season when they threw out three clubs for failing to fulfil the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) licensing criteria.

While Churchill Brothers, Rangdajied United Football Club and United Sports Club have been shown the door, Mohammedan Sporting have been barred from taking part in the second division. The decision to axe these clubs were taken by licensing committee of the federation after a meeting in the capital.

The barred clubs, however, can appeal in the next seven working days. The clubs are expected to meet several legal, administrative, sporting, infrastructure and financial criteria.

“Based on the documents provided by all the parties concerned and the inspection conducted by the AIFF inspection team in the month of April/ May, the committee found that nine out of the 14 applicants have made the grade while four have failed,” said the federation in a statement.

While AIFF said it was congratulated by the AFC for following the licensing criteria, some in the federation felt the strict measure had something to do with the national body’s inability to manage its calendar.

“In the 2013-14 season, federation’s developmental side, Pailan Arrows, were thrown out at the last moment apparently to reduce the number of teams in the I-League, thus putting the players in trouble,” claimed an official within the body.

“This time, it would have been difficult to run the I-League with more than 12 teams especially after granting an exclusive slot of 10 weeks to the Indian Super League,” said the official. “The strict implementation of licensing criteria has brought the number of teams to 10. A couple of more could be added when the federation opens the bid for new teams from the corporate houses,” he added.

“It is a huge shock for us,” said Valanka Alemao, the Churchill boss. “We had been trying hard to promote the game for the past 25 years. Still they have thrown us outů It is a sad day for Indian football,” she said.