I-League clubs’ remain barred as AIFF Appeal Committee rejects licensing appeals

Published 17 June 2014 | Authored by: Manali Kulkarni
The Indian sports law update for this week concerns the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF’s)1 Club Licensing Appeals Body’s decision to uphold the AIFF Club Licensing Committee's conclusion not to grant four I-League teams licenses to play in the First Division I-League2 for their failures to comply with the AIFF Indian Club Licensing Regulations (the “AIFF Licensing Regulations”).

AIFF Club Licensing Appeals Body denies I-League teams’ licensing appeals 

As discussed in my previous blog , the AIFF Club Licencing Comittee barred four I- League teams at the end of May 2014 3 for their failures to comply with the AIFF Licensing Regulations 4 . Pursuant to Section D, Article 5.3 of the AIFF Licensing Regulations, the four barred clubs were entitled to appeal the first instance decision of the Club Licensing Committee to the Club Licensing Appeals Body. The operation, duties and powers of the Club Licensing Appeals Body can be found at Article 3.13 of the AIFF Licensing Regulations.
All four of the barred clubs exercised their right to appeal, and the appeal hearing took place on June 3, 2014. The Club Licensing Appeals Body was constituted of a three member panel (led by NK Sud - retired Justice Punjab and Haryana high court)5. After hearing the appeals, the Appeals Bo decided in each case to reject the appeals and uphold the first instance decision not to grant the four teams licenses for the upcoming season on the basis that the teams had not sufficiently demonstrated that they had fulfilled many of the 42 A-criteria relating to “sporting, personnel & administrative, financial, legal and infrastructure”.


As shown in the appeals process chart labeled ‘The Core Process’ under the section titled, “Compliance” of the AIFF Licensing Regulations 6 , the barred I-League teams have no further rights of appeal. Accordingly, the four teams are now unable to compete in the First Division I-League, although they do still have the opportunity to compete in the Second Division7 if they meet the necessary AIFF criteria by the required deadlines, which have yet to be formally announced. 
Of the four teams, it is interesting to note that one submitted false documentation to the Appeals Body, although it was only given “a warning that "criminal action" could be taken against them.8
The fourth of the barred teams, Mohammedan Sporting, had in fact already been relegated to the Second Division; although it still chose to (unsuccessfully) appeal the initial decision, and remained barred with the other three teams.9
One of the four barred teams, Churchill Brothers, may have a different agenda after receiving the decision from the Club Licensing Appeals Body. Churchill failed to meet 13 of 42 A-criteria, but did successfully convince the Appeals Body that it had fulfilled the youth, sporting, and infrastructure aspects, and is said to now be planning how to proceed after the decision. Churchill’s CEO, and lawyer, Valanka Alemao, has yet to give a specific answer as to how the club will move forward, but is said to be deciding on “the next course of action” after expressing his frustration at being barred from the First Division, and considering it not an option for Churchill to be playing in the Second Division.10

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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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