The reigning champions stake claim for top flight place in merged league..

It has been barely a few days since Aizawl FC capped off a historic success by winning the I-League title. The club from the hills of Mizoram has done the unthinkable for most of the clubs in India, who operate with meager resources but hope and dream of making themselves known on the footballing map of this country. However, not always do they taste the sweet flavour of success for the lack of budget, infrastructure and even the big clubs luring away their players with lucrative offers which leave them with nothing but discomfort and heartbreak. A fate similar to this was meant to happen to the current I-League champions, Aizawl FC, until they stood up to it and became the voice of countless Aizawl fans and football fans throughout India when they protested against the I-League and ISL merger with them not being in it.

As has been previously reported by Khel Now the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the owners of the Indian Super League (ISL) IMG-Reliance are in talks for a merger of the I-League and the cash-rich league.  However, as a part of the process, the company has sought to introduce a corporate league model in unifying the two leagues, where only three of the current I-League teams, East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC will would be allowed to play in the unified league, which is to become India’s top-flight league while the I-League will be the second tier, where the current champions Aizawl along with six other teams will compete. However, the reigning champions have now thrown a spanner in the works by staking claim to be part of the merged top flight.

In a statement the club has made it clear that that they wish to be part of the ISL in the new structure. “Aizawl FC has submitted its formal claim to AIFF to continue in the top league even after proposed merger of the existing top league with ISL”, read the statement

The statement also stated that “If their proposal did not receive a positive response from the AIFF the club is ready to go to great lengths to ensure the future of the I-League champions and their players. “if no positive response is received from the AIFF, the club will approach Central Sports Minister, Prime Minister of India and also President of AFC,” it further read.

It continued, “If all these steps fail, the club will have no other choice but to resort to worldwide protests, sitting demonstration near AFC/FIFA offices, picketing the AIFF office and mass hunger strike/fast unto death protest.”

With Mizoram emerging as the new powerhouse in the Indian game, excluding Aizawl is sure to affect the growth of Indian football. However, with their latest stand the club have put the AIFF in a spot and it will be interesting to see how the governing body reacts to these not so subtle threats.