The club insist they have initiated payments on a regular basis…

The Times of India reported on Tuesday morning that Chennai City had not paid their players their wages since their I-League entry, citing an unnamed Chennai player as the source. The report even stated that the four foreign recruits – Haroon Amiri (Afghanistan), Anyichie Echezona Celestine (Nigeria), Charles de Souza and Marcos Vinicius (Brazil) – had pondered returning to their countries.

However, Vikram Murali, General Secretary of the Tamil Nadu club denied the allegations, stating the club had initiated payment on February 17. He sent Khel Now a screengrab of an e-mail conversation he had had with Senthilvelan, an HDFC Bank employee, questioning why the payment had not reached the players’ bank accounts despite the bank debiting the same from WTF Infotainment LLP’s account.

The final of the three e-mails that Krishnakumar, owner of Chennai City, had sent to HDFC Bank one day before the Times of India article went live read: “We had made the below request on Saturday to credit the salaries four our players. Based on the request, our account got debited on Saturday for the same. However, the payments to our players are yet to be credited in their respective accounts.

“Kindly note salary payments are very critical for any organization. These are payment to professional footballers. Because of this delay, they did not perform in yesterday’s match. The stakes are really high for us as we represent Tamil Nadu in the National League, and players are from across India. We can’t cut sorry figure because of HDFC.”

Chennai largely underperformed on Sunday night in front of what had been hitherto the loudest crowd the team has ever managed this season. Despite a decent first half performance, they shipped three second-half goals to lose 4-1 to Shillong Lajong. Manager Soundararajan uncharacteristically looked dejected as he lamented the poor showing from Indian Super League and foreign players in the post-match press conference.

They looked as though they had settled well after looking destined to be the punching bags toward the start of the season, but the latest controversy does have the potential to unsettle the team in the event of all the allegations proving true.

Chennai City travel to Mizoram later this week as they take on high-flying Aizawl on Saturday afternoon; the allegedly disgruntled players are set to travel with the team with their not being paid on time being addressed by the club now.