The clubs have branded the apex body’s proposed move as both unacceptable and illegal.

The relationship between the I-League clubs and AIFF has finally hit rock bottom. The clubs met in the capital on Monday, amidst reports the apex body was set to announce the Indian Super League as the first division league of the country.

The clubs have time and again requested the AIFF to meet for a discussion over their future. They had prepared a roadmap to discuss with the governing body, but have been left disappointed by president Praful Patel’s reluctence to convene a meeting on the issue.

With the AIFF slapping hefty fines on the clubs who didn’t participate in the Super Cup, their requests for a meeting going unanswered and prize money from the previous campaign overdue, the clubs have now unanimously decided to approach the “appropriate courts” for relief, if the top body pushes through its planned elevation of the cash-rich league, at a meeting of its Executive Committee due to take place in the first week of July .

The clubs who were represented at today’s gathering were East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers, Minerva Punjab, Aizawl FC, NEROCA FC and Gokulam Kerala.

Their joint statement on the deliberations, read, “The refusal of the President of AIFF to meet the I-League clubs inspite of several requests and the subsequent vindictive actions, specifically towards the I League clubs, combined with the coercive and blackmailing attitude of FSDL towards AIFF by refusing to make payments pushes the game to an uncertain future.

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The I-League has, since its inception, been the first division league of the country and has continued to produce talents unrivalled. The players produced by the league have been playing for the cash-rich league’s teams and representing the national team. The league, acting as a feeder to the ISL clubs, has also been the home of two of the most celebrated clubs of Indian football, in East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.

The I-League clubs were assured of their first division status by Patel during a press-conference in the initial years of the FSDL-owned Indian Super League.

The clubs also made it clear that they were ready to fight for their cause at any cost saying, “To be now told that the I-League will no longer be the top league is completely unacceptable and illegal and we pledge to fight this together as one football family, which carries the tradition of Indian football.”