The iconic football club Mohun Bagan has its worst nightmare come true as the verdict given by the AIFF core committee goes against them.
The AIFF I-League core committee has upheld the report submitted by one-man inquiry committee assumed by Hon’ble Justice A K Ganguly. The report says that the decision of Mohun Bagan to not play the 2nd half was unfair and it cannot be justified under the grounds of ‘Force Majeure’ .
‘Force Majeure’ is a clause that allows team to call off the match midway in case of a major unavoidable occurrence.
What does the ban mean for Mohun Bagan?
1. Mohun Bagan will not be able to play in the I-League 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15, that is 3 seasons in a row.
2. Moreover, they would have to start with the 2nd Division to qualify for the I-league, once the ban period is over.
3. The subsidies and grants given by AIFF for playing the I-league matches have to be reimbursed to the AIFF.
4. This may also effectively mean their non-participation in the Federation Cup and hence in AFC Cup thereof.
5. 3 years of obliviousness from national football is a huge setback for a club like Mohun Bagan. But for a club with over 100 years of history and a huge fan base all over the world, it would not be a problem to bounce back to the national stage.
But this should also be an opportunity for the fans to lead the way for Mohun Bagan, to root out the mismanagement that has become synonymous with Kolkata football and restrucure the club so that when they re-emerge, they regain their lost glory.
What does the ban mean for Kolkata football?
This day has to be the blackest day in the history of Kolkata football after the 16th August 1980 when mob violence led to the stampede ensuing death of 16 fans.
An iconic club, not only for Indian football but also for Asian football, has been brought down to shambles by groups of self-serving administrators. Years of mismanagement has led the club downhill from where it used to be. And the final death knell has sounded in the form of a 3 season long ban.
The worst sufferers in all this mess will be the die-hard Mohun Bagan fans and to some extent the rival East Bengal fans too. While it will be 3 long treacherous years for Bagan followers to see their team compete the best in India, it will also be a loss for the rival fans as they would surely miss the rivalry that keeps them going for more.
But the club will still be participating in the Kolkata Football League which may now regain its importance. Since the advent of the National Football Leaue/I-league, KFL which used to be the numero uno tournament in Indian football had been sidelined. With nothing else to go for, Mohun Bagan will concentrate all its strength on the local league.
What does the ban mean for Indian football?
As it is, the I-league lacks enough quality and a lot of the 14 teams are also-rans in the current competition. With Mohun Bagan going down, the tournament is sure to go more dull than ever. On average the team brings 30,000 people to the stadium for their home matches. The league that is struggling to find audience is going to lose a big chunk of it further.
AIFF also found it difficult to get TV coverage for the I-league. One of the reasons why some TV Channels came forward to rescue them is the Kolkata football teams Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. The huge fan base ensures that there are crores of people watching it on TV. So much is the influence of this audience segments that when Zee Sports used to telecast Indian football, a lot of its main sponsors were local Bengali brands!
Needless to say, AIFF will have to do something out of the box to sell the TV deal next season.
The biggest sufferers, the Mohun Bagan fans, who have weathered all conditions, gone through a lot of bad seasons and yet stayed by their team have to rise to the occasion now. If anyone can restore the pride, its them. They must come forward and force a systematic change in the club administration, end the tradition of ‘cut money’ and plan long term future of the club.
For those who do not know what “Cut Money’ is and how much harm has it done, the following comment on a social media site from a former Mohun Bagan player serves a good hint:
“Very sorry for bagans fans but the oficialls must blamed now shoot then out of the club,now i’m not playng more i can say they r very bad they look for money only they dnt love the club like u guys they dnt cry when bagan lost they just cry when they lost money on new transaction of new players,very very very sorry guys bagan will come up again stronger if change the oficialls” (sic)