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New league format next season: I-League CEO






Mumbai: “This could be the last edition of the I-league. It is looking that way and unless something happens in the intervening months, we are looking at the last edition of the I-league,” I-legaue CEO Sunando Dhar told The Navhind Times on the side lines of the Elite Youth (U-18) League final at Don Bosco ground.

The I-league started as the successor to the National Football League (NFL) in 2007 and seven clubs have won the title since its inception. Goa’s Dempo Sports Club is the only club in India to have won the I-league three times. Goa’s Churchill Brothers FC has won the I-league twice along with Bengaluru FC and is in contention for the third title in the final year of the league. Salgaocar FC from Goa, Mohun Bagan, Aizawl FC and Minerva Punjab are the other teams to have won the championship.

“Ideally, a league has to be based on the principle of promotion and relegation. I do not think the new league will be based on this principle because of the contractual obligations in the Indian Super League (ISL),” said Sunando when asked whether the new revamped league will be based on promotion and relegation.


“Relegation and promotion may not be possible initially. But, the system should fall in place after some years. The idea is to get a new system in place first and to tweak it later,” explained Sunando.

It may be recalled that Salgaocar FC, Sporting Clube de Goa and Dempo Sports Club opted out of the I-League in 2016 after the indecision on the part of All India football Federation (AIFF) on how the ISL would be amalgamated with the I-League. The ISL , it may be noted here, started as a tournament in 2014 and the eight original franchisees were exempted from relegation. Two more franchisees- Bengaluru FC from the I-League and Jamshedpur FC were inducted in 2017.

The issue of legacy clubs being kept out of the I-league was discussed after the visit of FIFA President Giannio Infantino in 2016 and the matter of restructuring India’s league was left to Asian Football Council (AFC) and AIFF.

As per the roadmap drawn during meetings between AFC and AIFF, India is expected to have a new league format from the 2020 season. Teams from the I-League are expected to join the ISL but the number is still not clear although there are indications that Mohun Bagan and East Bengal could be two possible teams from Kolkata because of the huge fan following enjoyed by these two clubs.

“The different age groups tournaments that have been started since the last few years and played by teams from the I-League and ISL will continue next year. The talent seen on these tournaments has been amazing and the interest amongst all the teams has been tremendous. There will be no different set of age group tournaments,” conceded Sunando.

The Elite Youth League was won by I-league club Minerva Punjab FC who defeated ISL Club FC Pune City.



Hearing of Minerva Punjab FC plea against AIFF likely on Friday




New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday is likely to hear a plea by the Minerva Punjab FC challenging All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) league committee decision not to postpone the February 18 I-League match against Real Kashmir FC in the wake of the Pulwama attack, team lawyers said on Tuesday.

In the plea filed by Minerva Punjab FC’s counsels Abhimanyu Tewari and Amitabh Tewari, the team said that it requested the AIFF league committee to postpone their match with Real Kashmir FC which was scheduled to take place in Srinagar on Monday.
Minerva’s fears were well founded and a request to postpone the match would not affect any party in the light of the extremely volatile situation in the Kashmir Valley, the advocates said.

In the plea, Minerva had also asked to shift the venue but it was rejected.


The decision of AIFF not to postpone the match is akin to forcing the players and spectators to play Russian roulette with their lives, the advocates said.

“The rejection is completely against all principles of equity and are violative of the Hero I-League regulations 2018-19 and the FIFA safety guidelines,” the plea said.

“The decision of the AIFF not to postpone the match is inequitable and has been taken without taking the situation into account and without accounting for the safety of the players and the spectators.”

The advocates said that Minerva has international players, who have been advised by their respective countries not to travel to Jammu and Kashmir.

“The AIFF is acting arbitrarily and without reason as earlier in the month the match between Real Kashmir FC and East Bengal was postponed on account of snow whereas the present situation is much more serious and lives of the players and the spectators are at risk,” the advocates said.

Moreover, Minerva is at a loss by not playing the match.

“Minerva is languishing at the bottom of the table and an adverse decision would lead to relegation from the 1st division therefore the decision to not play the match on the February 18 is completely bonafide in light of the security situation.

“A decision of awarding three points to Real Kashmir FC is beneficial for them as the same would propel them to the title with better goal difference therefore their insistence to play the match,” the plea added.

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After IMG-Reliance’s exit, Pakistan Super League gets new producer




Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) were dealt a blow on Sunday when IMG-Reliance pulled out as producers and logistical support providers for the Pakistan Super League (PSL). The decision to pull out early into the season came after Pulwama terror attack in South Kashmir on February 14 left 40 CRPF soldiers dead. Immediately afterward, PCB announced they would sign a new partner soon and it has emerged that they have.

PCB has found a replacement for the remainder of the tournament with consortium of Blitz and Trans Group to help produce the PSL. “The Pakistan Cricket Board today announced the consortium of Blitz and Trans Group as the new live production partner for the HBL Pakistan Super League 2019,” the PCB said in a press release. “Blitz is the PCB’s broadcast partners in Pakistan, while Trans Group is the event management partners.”

The Blitz and Trans Group will begin their coverage of the PSL from February 20. The board stated that the group will provide same coverage the viewers experienced in the earlier matches of the league.


In the mail written to Sohaib Sheikh, General Manager Marketing & Sales PCB and PSL, and Kamil Khan General Manager Marketing, Digital Media and Sports Production at Pakistan Cricket Board, IMG-Reliance wrote: “Due to unfortunate events a couple of days back which resulted in the death of Indian soldiers, IMG Reliance is pulling out with immediate effects, from offering broadcast production services for PSL,” the source confirmed to “The incident that occurred is deeply regrettable,” it further said.

PCB issued a statement in response saying, “We have been informed by IMG Reliance that they will be unable to partner with us for the remaining HBL PSL 2019 and PCB has reserved all its rights. The PCB always had a contingency plan in place, and we are confident we will be in a position to announce the new partner on Monday after the completion of the formalities,” said PCB’s Managing Director Wasim Khan.

The decision from IMG-Reliance came just a few hours after the broadcasting channel D-Sport suspended the telecast of the league in India. Even the official streaming service pulled out from coverage.

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Ross Taylor, Tim Southee shine in Bangladesh sweep




Ross Taylor became New Zealand’s highest scorer in one-day internationals on Wednesday as he helped his side secure an 88-run victory over Bangladesh in Dunedin in their final official ODI before the World Cup.

The 34-year-old top-scored with 69, his 47th ODI half century, to move to 8,026 career runs and ahead of former captain Stephen Fleming’s 8,007 as New Zealand scored 330 for six at University Oval.

Tim Southee then took three wickets in his first two overs with Sabbir Rahman’s maiden one-day century not enough as Bangladesh were dismissed for 242 in 47.2 overs to give New Zealand a 3-0 series sweep. Southee finished with 6-65.


“I knew I was close at the start of the day … but that was only because I was told I was 50 runs away by a journalist yesterday,” Taylor told Sky Sports on Wednesday.

“It was nice to get the reception I got,” he added of the standing ovation he received when he reached 51 and the crowd were told of the significance of the score. “Very humbling.”

Congratulations @RossLTaylor amazing last 18 months and stellar career to date. Great player that I hope will set the bar high for the next. Well deserved and good luck over the next few months.

Taylor is in a rich run of form. He has scored 2892 at 68.85 with eight centuries since the last World Cup and averaged 91.28 last year, but sidestepped any questions about retirement.
“We’ll have to wait and see how the body is going,” said Taylor, who turns 35 on March 8.

“It’s definitely in your thinking, because you have to think about retirement after cricket.

“In saying that you still need to earn the right to play for the team. At the moment I’m really enjoying my time and hopefully I’ll have a couple of more years left in me.”

New Zealand have no more official ODIs before the World Cup starts on May 30, but Taylor said he felt they had learned enough from 3-0 series sweeps against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and a 4-1 loss to India to be competitive in England.

“I think we’re getting a good nucleus of depth in this team and hopefully we can go over and compete,” he said.

“I guess we need to have a full complement of batters and bowlers going well.”

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February 2019
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