Churchill Brothers takes AIFF to Delhi’s High Court over I-League licensing dispute

Published 05 September 2014 | Authored by: Manali Kulkarni

In May 2014, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) refused to grant four football teams, including Churchill Brothers, a new I-League License permitting them to play in the top-flight league for the forthcoming season (now due to commence in January 2015), as the teams failed to meet the necessary I-League criteria.  The four teams were all relegated to the the second division.1

On June 3, the teams unsuccessfully appealed the initial decision to the Club Licensing Appeals Body2 under Section 19d of Article 5.3 in the AIFF Indian Club Licensing Regulations (the “Licensing Regulations”).3, 4 The ‘Core Process’ chart in the “Compliance” section of the Licensing Regulations states that the teams have no further rights of appeal.5

On August 29, Churchill Brothers filed a writ petition against the AIFF to the Delhi High Court.6 Additional support for their case was provided by the Goa Football Association (GFA).7

Both Churchill Brothers and the GFA claimed that due to Churchill Brothers’ winning record in Indian football, they should be reconsidered for the I-League. In response to the writ, the High Court Judge, Vibhu Bakhru, issued a notice to the AIFF indicating they should be “more inclusive for the welfare of sport in the country” and making comments in favor of Churchill Brothers rejoining the I-League.

On September 1, the High Court directed the AIFF to explain why they initially excluded Churchill Brothers.8 The AIFF responded reiterating that Churchill Brothers did not meet the required I-League criteria during the AIFF’s initial inspection earlier this year, referring in particular to the youth development program that did not meet the prescribed requirements.

The AIFF also added that because the nine I-League teams are already finalized, one of those teams would need to be eliminated before Churchill Brothers could rejoin the league.

The High Court explained that Churchill Brothers will address the AIFF’s criteria concerns in their reply to the AIFF’s response, and the reply will determine how the High Court will proceed.


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About the Author

Manali Kulkarni

Manali Kulkarni

Manali is the COO at LawInSport and executive contributor of the editorial board for LawInSport. She holds an LLM in Sports Law from Nottingham Law School (Nottingham Trent University).

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