Das reiterates merger of leagues

 With rumours of the two Pune-based clubs’ -- Pune FC and Bharat FC -- likely pull-out from the I-League in the coming season, Kushal Das, the general secretary of the All India Football Federation, on Saturday reiterated the idea of merging both the I-League and the Indian Super Lea­gue in the future.

“We have a roadmap which is to have one league within two-three years. But we have to chalk it out on how to go about it. There will be a shake-up in Indian football. There has not been any impact so far but it will happen in future and we have to sort this out,” Das said on the sidelines of Mohun Bagan’s 125th year celebration in Kolkata.

“More or less all the teams — ISL clubs and I-League clubs and IMG Reliance — are of the opinion to have one league,” he added.

Earlier, the AIFF president Praful Patel too had indicated that the I-League could feature some teams from the ISL in future.

With the ISL gathering much popularity in its debut season, Das also assured that the I-league would not be affected in the coming season.

“I don’t think that will happen as nobody other than the two clubs have expressed their intention (of pulling out),” said Das.

Meanwhile, the club in question, Pune FC, held cards close to its chest. Talking to Deccan Herald, Chirag Tanna, the head of operations for Pune FC said that the option was still being considered.

“We are not in a position to comment on this issue. The board and the management are still deciding over this option and nothing is concrete yet,” said Chirag.

Bharat FC were unavailable for a comment on this issue.
Having learnt a bitter lesson from the Pune experience, the AIFF is also keen to not have a second team from Bengaluru.

“The bid is already open and we will not take another team from Bengaluru as we already have Bengaluru FC there,” he concluded.

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