Aircraftmen face axe

HASC fail to meet AFCs separate entity guidelines

HASC, along with fellow I-League teams, Air India and ONGC, face the axe after failing to meet the licensing criteria set up by the AIFF for all top division clubs as well as II division teams.

The committee, chaired by AFC president Mohammad Bin Hammam, decided to bar HASC from participating in next year’s I-League as they still haven’t declared their club as a separate commercial entity. This decison will mean that the Aircraftmen will not be allowed to take part in the I-League II Division as well.

The clubs were given a December 31st deadline last year to fulfill the criteria and submit all the relevant documents to the AFC. A final decision on the eligibility of the I-League as a fully professional league is expected to be taken on Thursday.

It is, however, learnt that HASC, who have been struggling on the pitch as well with some patchy performances in the past few matches, have been given time to sort out the issue. “Yes, we have been given some time and I have been assured by the HAL management that everything will be sorted out within the stipulated time,” HASC manager M Muralidharan said.

“Rajan (HASC Sporting Director) has assured me that, just like how BEML fulfilled their criteria (to play in the ongoing II Divison), we will also go about completing all the norms. So that is some releif and I’m condfident that everything will be sorted out.”

Karnataka State Football Association President AR Khaleel was also hopeful that the Bangalore team will sort the problem out soon.

“Since the exclusion is from next year, I’m hopeful that HAL can do something about it and fulfill all the criteria,” said Khaleel. I know that they have applied to the Company Board of Bangalore to change their name to HAL Sports Academy. They are just waiting for the certificate and if they can get that done soon, I’m confident they will have a good chance of playing next season,” he added.

HASC captain J Murali was extremely disappointed by the news and said that it is sure to affect the future of football in the City. “It is really sad. This is a big blow for us. I have nothing against the decison taken by the AFC as they have a valid reason for doing so. It’s just unfortunate that it has happened and hopefully the management will do the needful and make sure everything is sorted out.

“I honestly felt like crying when I heard the news. Because this decision is hugely detrimental to Bangalore football. Let’s just hope for the best,” he noted.

HASC lie tenth in the 14-team league, with five matches to go and while their place in the first division is close to being assured, the latest news may just affect the performance of the team.

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