By Mark Baber
Published on Wednesday, 04 September 2013 11:52
September 4 - Just days before the start of the new season, one of the I-League's two new inductees, the Mumbai Tigers, has informed the Indian Football Federation (AIFF) that it is withdrawing from this season's competition.
The shock news was announced on the AIFF web site which reported: "Citing unavoidable circumstances, Mumbai Tigers have decided not to take part in the 2013-14 Season of I-League, requesting further for their involvement in the 2nd Division League for this Season.
"The Mumbai based Club informed the All India Football Federation (AIFF) that they are not ready at the moment to participate in the First Division and need more time to prepare for participation in the I-League."
The AIFF has responded by saying they had no warning of the withdrawal and the I-League will continue with just 13 teams and no changes to the dates of matches which have already been announced.
I-League chief executive Sunando Dhar said: "We did not have any idea that this could be coming. Suddenly they (Mumbai Tigers) sent a letter to us that they are not ready to play in the I-League this season. Only 13 teams will be there in the I-League this year."
The decision of Mumbai Tigers, owned by the Dodsal Group - a Mumbai-founded but Dubai-based diversified multinational conglomerate - follows hard on the heels of last week's announcement by the AIFF that it has decided to disband its development squad the Pailan Arrows, also an I-League team, with immediate effect, a year ahead of schedule.
This latest set-back for Indian football will provide more ammunition for those who have criticised the running of the game by the AIFF and its partners IMG-Reliance who are spending a lot of effort setting up a new tournament and new franchise-based club league. It is becoming increasing clear that this effort is having a very detrimental effect on the I-League and the existing clubs.
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