The AFC Club Licencing deadline for I-League clubs ended yesterday on December 31, 2010 with the remaining eight clubs handing in documents which would allow them to stay in the I-League in the 2011/12 season, but some could face the axe.
When the results were released in November 2010 of the assessment of Indian clubs it was a slap in the face of Indian club football. All clubs failed the tough AFC Club Licensing criteria; while only six clubs - Chirag United SC, Mumbai FC, Pune FC, Churchill Brothers SC, Dempo SC and JCT - could fulfill the watered down I-League criteria. The eight other teams - East Bengal Club, Mohun Bagan AC, Salgaocar SC, Viva Kerala, Air India, ONGC, HAL, AIFF XI - had until yesterday to provide the AIFF with documents to prove that they have fulfilled the criteria.
The Kolkata giants East Bengal Club and Mohun Bagan AC have been able to sort out their ownership issue. The United Breweries Group owns 50% of both the clubs through different companies, but had their chairman Dr. Vijay Mallya as director of both clubs. This was changed with Dr. Mallya resigning as Director of United Mohun Bagan Football Team Pvt. Ltd. and his taking Sidhartha V. Mallya being given a place on the Board of Directors.
Two other clubs in Salgaocar SC and Viva Kerala had not met the criteria due to not submitting in audited profit and loss statements, have both now done so; while the AIFF XI, India's Under-20 national team, is a matter of concern as they do not fulfill a number of criteria; but the AIFF think that this developmental team should be seen as a special case and not judged by standard guidelines.
The three public sector unit clubs in Air India, ONGC and HAL could face the axe as their football teams still aren't separate private entities. Air India and HAL have applied for privatization, but ONGC has asked for an extension of the deadline to meet the criteria.
The AFC Special Mission Team is set to return to India in February 2011 after reviewing all the updated documents and will announce which of the current 14 teams would be allowed to play the I-League in the 2011/12 season.