New Delhi: There was finally some relief for the 12 I-league clubs as the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Tuesday granted them a one-time exemption to play in the upcoming 2013-14 Season.
AIFF's Club Licensing Committee First Instance Body (FIB) categorically told the 12 I-League that they have to comply with all the 'A' Grade Criteria, as laid out by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), just as Pune FC did, if they want to play in the 2014-15 season.
“This is the only exemption given to all the 12 Clubs for the Football Season 2013-14. They will have to comply with all the ‘A' Grade Criteria just as Pune FC did for the National Licence from the 2014-15 Season onwards and no further Exemption will be given if they fail to meet ‘A' Grade Criteria,” Girija Shanker Mungali, chairman of the licensing committee, said.
The 12 concerned clubs are Dempo, Salgaocar, Churchill Brothers, East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Sporting Clube de Goa, United, Mohammedan Sporting, Mumbai FC, Rangdajied FC, Shillong Lajong FC, and Pailan Arrows.
The AIFF's Club Licensing Committee earlier had refused to clear the 14 applicants. The decision in this regard was based on the report of a five-member AIFF team that inspected all the clubs during May-June.
Only Pune FC were initially granted exemption to play in the I-League while the cases of the 12 I-League clubs were referred to the club licensing committee's first instance body.
United Sikkim was the only club, among the 14 to flunk club licensing test, that didn't appeal for exemption since they have been relegated to the second division.
The AIFF started the process in January 2013 to implement Indian Club Licensing for the first time. This included an inspection of all the clubs in May and June when a five-member team, that included national coach Wim Koevermans, visited the I-League clubs.