Mohun Bagan declared champion as I-League season called off

The 2019-20 I-League season was officially concluded on Saturday with the remaining 23 matches of the suspended season cancelled in the wake of the extension of nationwide lockdown till May 3 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mohun Bagan was officially crowned the champion as it had already clinched the title with four rounds left in the competition. The All India Football Federation (AIFF) also opted for no relegation into second division this time.

The AIFF League Committee, General Secretary Kushal Das and I-League CEO Sunando Dhar convened in a meeting on Saturday. The meeting was summoned to discuss various issues pertaining to league affairs for the 2019-20 season in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with footballing activities under the aegis of AIFF staying suspended as per advisories issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, and directives from several State Governments.

In light of the above, the Committee deliberated various matters and recognising COVID-19 global crisis as a force majeure event of unique and unprecedented circumstances, recommended the following to the AIFF Executive Committee.

1. The Committee recommended that the 2019-20 season be deemed to be concluded.

2. That Mohun Bagan be declared as the Hero I-League champion for the 2019-20 season as they stand atop current standings in the Hero I-League until the point of suspension on March 14, 2020.

Furthermore, Mohun Bagan with 39 points from 16 matches enjoy a point difference which is insurmountable by any other team even if all other matches had been played and concluded as a normal course of action.

3. With regards to the remaining clubs, and noting the concerns expressed by many of them in writing, the League Committee recommended the remaining prize money (apart from the champion’s prize money) be equally divided among the remaining 10 participating clubs.

4. The Committee also recommended that there be no relegation from the Hero I-League 2019-20 season.

5. In reference to the Hero 2 Division, the Committee waits for approval over regulatory matters from the AIFF Executive Committee and the Asian Football Confederation to understand the feasibility of organising a shorter duration tournament next season for qualification to the Hero I-League 2020-21.

6. Meanwhile, with nearly 500 matches yet to completed in various youth leagues, the Committee felt it would be an injustice for kids and youth players to be compromising with social distancing, and hence, recommended to stand by the conclusion of all youth leagues in the current season – the Hero sub-junior League, the Hero Junior League, the Hero Elite League, and the U-17 Khelo India Girls League – and start afresh from 2020-21 season.

7. Understanding the current crisis, the Committee felt it needed to be flexible as per AIFF Academy Accreditation is concerned — as the primary objective is to increase participation of clubs and players. Hence, the Committee recommended for an extension of the deadline for submission of the requisite documentation after the ongoing lockdown is revoked.

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