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AIFF to discuss impact of Mahindra's departure

April 30, 2010 20:09 IST

All India Football Federation will discuss in its executive committee meeting on May 7 the impact on the next I-League of Mahindra United's decision to disband itself from competitive football.

I-League chief executive officer Sunando Dhar said Mahindra's pulling out of the top-flight league was a "big decision" and AIFF will discuss how to go about it in the next season.

"Mahindra pulling out was a big decision. But I am not in a position to say what the AIFF will do. It is too early to say anything on that. We have an executive committee meeting on May 7 and will discuss the issue there," Dhar said.

"We have the I-League committee and the Asian Football Confederation has also been involved in professionalizing Indian football. So we will take a call on that," he said.

Mahindra's decision would be a severe setback to AIFF and national coach Bob Houghton's plans to make I-League a vehicle to revive Indian football.

Mainly under Houghton's insistence, it has been decided that I-League will be a 16-team affair but with the departure of a heavyweight like Mahindra the competitiveness of the top-flight league may take a beating.

Asked about how Mahindra United will be replaced next year, Dhar said, "We have not decided on the number of sides to take part in the next I-League. We will decide before the next season starts."

In a major blow to I-League, Mahindra United on Friday pulled out of the competitive football to shift its focus towards developing talent at school level.

"We have decided to get out of competitive soccer and get into grassroots soccer at schools level. This means at the end of the I-League we would not be taking part in any competitive soccer but training school kids to make them better prospects," said the club's chairman Alan Durante in Mumbai.

Mahindra United has been a very successful team since its establishment in 1962.

The club won National Football League in 2005-06, IFA Shield (2006, 2008), Durand Cup (1998, 2002, 2008), Federation Cup (2003, 2006) and Super Cup (2003).

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