The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 15 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mohun Bagan ban is likely to be reduced

New Delhi: The executive committee of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is all set to reduce the period of ban imposed on Mohun Bagan but the century old club still might have to face the ignominy of playing the second division I-League next season.

“Tuesday’s meeting might see Mohun Bagan’s ban reduced till the end of this season, instead of two years,” said a senior AIFF official. “But in all probability, they have to start afresh from second division next season as one of the relegated teams. Bringing them back into the premier division would be against the rules.”

Some clubs’ failure to fulfil the AFC licensing criteria, however, could help Mohun Bagan to some extent. Two I-League teams — ONGC and Air India — are likely to be shown the door for not fulfilling the criteria. In that case, even if it decides to relegate just one team along with Mohun Bagan, the federation would find it difficult to plug the shortfall of two teams.

Though there is a suggestion to put the relegation on hold this season, many feel it would set a bad precedent. The process of relegation and promotion was never stopped in the league even when Goa’s Fransa Club decided to walk out midway through the league or Mahindra United disbanded the team at the end of season.

On Tuesday, the AIFF is also likely to approve the inclusion of two to three franchisee teams in the league. The federation hopes to get these teams from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

Also, there is every possibility that AIFF would simply reduce the ban till the end of this season and would deliberately keep all decision on the next season on hold. “This will give us the required time to have a look at all existing rules and regulations under the present context,” said another official.

On Monday, some former Mohun Bagan players, including Manas Bhattacharya and Bidesh Bose, met AIFF general secretary Kushal Das and submitted a memorandum requesting the federation to lift the ban. Mohun Bagan officials are already in the capital lobbying hard for the club. On Tuesday, they have been invited to present their case in front of the executive committee.