None of the top 14 I-League clubs in the country could comply with the 45 heads in the mandatory ‘A’ criteria of the Club Licensing Regulations, prompting the club licensing committee — First Instance Body (FIB) — of the All India Football Federation to decline a ‘legal licence’.
This in effect exposed the lack of willingness of the big clubs to adopt a professional set-up, which is what licensing is mostly about.
'The committee found none of the clubs fulfilling all the 45 heads under which they were to be enumerated for qualification. Though Pune FC came close to the count, there were still many heads where it fell short,' said noted lawyer Ushanath Banerjee, member of the FIB. 'None of the conditions laid down in the mandatory ‘A’ criteria is that difficult, and this can be fulfilled by the clubs if they are willing. It definitely needs some extra funds to meet all the requirements, but that can also be managed,' Banerjee said, after assessing the reports of the clubs with respect to conditions laid down in the ‘A’ criteria.
'Clubs from Goa and Kolkata, who have a greater tradition of football, have been able to fulfil quite a few heads of the criteria, but fell short in other areas,' he added.
Though the clubs will appeal for exemption this season, they will have to comply with the mandatory criteria next season when the committee meets again to assess them.