Kolkata/New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) Indian football suffered a serious set-back Thursday as the cash-strapped All India Football Federation (AIFF) was forced to pull the plug on its developmental side Pailan Arrows after sponsors Pailan Group failed to make any financial commitment for the forthcoming season.
Pailan Arrows are the third I-league side after Mahindra United and JCT to shut shop in the last three years.
The AIFF earlier had plans to disband the club, which was formed in 2010, next season, but lack of financial commitment prompted the federation to take an early call.
Last month, AIFF had resolved all the payment-related issues with the players after Pailan Group cleared Rs.60 lakh. But the sponsors were not able to pay the franchise fee at the start of the season.
"The sponsors (Pailan Group) have failed to make any financial commitment for the forthcoming season. The infrastructure (at Pailan on the outskirts of the city) is also in a bad shape. We tried our best to save the team but now we have been forced to disband the team. In the 2013-14 I-League season, there will be 14 teams," AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told IANS.
Arrows had 20 players on its rolls and the AIFF technical committee was also planning to make a total squad of around 30. The team was also without a coach after Australian Arthur Pappas moved to Dempo. Former Mohammedan Sporting coach Sanjoy Sen was likely to take over as the new coach.
Das, however, assured that the future of the 20-odd contracted players would be taken care of by the AIFF.
"The 20 players are contracted with the AIFF and would continue getting salaries. Some of them would play for I-League clubs while others will play for India Under-23 side," Das said.
The club was launched in 2010 as Indian Arrows, first based in Gurgaon, with the sole aim of nurturing young talent for the 2018 World Cup. The team appeared in three seasons of the I-League with mixed results.
Meanwhile, at the AIFF headquarters in Delhi, the I-League clubs met to finalise the Fixtures for the upcoming 2013-14 Season.
"The meeting was a fruitful one. The fixtures were discussed in detail with all club representatives. Everyone as given a chance to voice their concerns and only after hearing them did we finalise the fixtures for the upcoming I-league season," I-League chief executive Sunando Dhar said.
The broadcast timings were also discussed in detail in order to grab more eyeballs for the I-League.
The Federation Cup draw was also held after all the clubs unanimously decided to revert back to the group and knock-out format. The tournament will be held Jan 1-12 but the venue is yet to be decided.
Group A: Churchill Brothers, United SC, Pune FC, Team 16
Group B: Sporting Clube de Goa, East Bengal, Bengaluru FC, Rangdajied United
Group C: Salgaocar, Mohun Bagan, Mumbai FC, Shillong Lajong
Group D: Dempo SC, Mohammedan Sporting, Mumbai Tigers, Team 15
1st Semifinal: Winner Group A Vs Winner Group C
2nd Semifinal: Winner Group B Vs Winner Group D
Final: Winner 1st Semifinal Vs 2nd Semifinal.