I-League players are set to lose out on their salaries for the months of April and May as the 2019-20 season inches closer to cancellation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There have been no games in the I-League since March 14 and with the coronavirus-enforced lockdown already extended in most states, it looks unlikely that the season will be completed.
“There has been no official word from the All India Football Federation yet about the future of the season, but I think we won’t have any more football,” Robert Royte, owner of Aizawl FC told Scroll.in.
“Fortunately, the champions are already decided unlike many other leagues, so cancelling the season is a likely scenario,” he added.
But the voiding of the season could be bad news for the players who would lose out on their salaries for the months of April and May.
Most of the I-League clubs have cleared payments of the players till March, but with no matches set to happen in April and May their hand may be forced.
“The salaries are a problem. Not just for us but for all clubs. We have paid the players till May, but beyond that it is difficult. I think all clubs should meet and reach a common solution about the issue,” Royte added.
The clubs have taken a financial hit themselves with sponsors expected to hold back their payments due to the lack of action.
“I think the players also understand that if the league is cancelled it will be very difficult for us to pay them for April and May,” Gokulam Kerala CEO Praveen VC told Scroll.in.
Like Aizawl FC, the Kozhikode-based club has also cleared salaries till March.
The clubs are also split over the possibility of resuming the season after May as the contracts of the majority of the players end that month.
“We are in a strong position, so our priority is to complete the season, but we have to put the safety of the players first,” Royte said.
“We are not in favour of playing beyond May as it will create some complications and also some legal troubles,” he added.
However, the Gokulam Kerala CEO feels the season should be allowed to be finished even if it stretched beyond the usual end date. They are clinging on to Fifa’s proposed change in transfer clauses that would allow players to sign extensions to complete the interrupted seasons.
“Fifa will allow the contracts of players to be extended, so if that’s possible we would like to play,” he said.
“From my information, the Second Division League will be held as they need to promote someone. So if the second division can be held, even the I-League can happen,” he added.
However, most clubs seem to have accepted that the season may be voided. Few players have already been served termination notices by the clubs with their dues to be cleared before July 31, 2020, reported The Times of India.
According to the report, the AIFF is set to take a decision on the future of the I-League with cancellation of the remaining season likely to be the outcome. The Indian federation will hand Mohun Bagan the title while exempting the current clubs from relegation.