With Mahindra United disbanding their team, Vasco Sports Club, who finished third behind HAL and ONGC in the second division, should be promoted to the elite first division of the I-League for the coming season, says Goa Football Association secretary Savio Messais.
Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and ONGC had earlier qualified for the I-League first division in the seven-team tournament. Both HAL and ONGC, after their final round-robin league matches, have 16 points from seven encounters.
"With Mahindra disbanding their team, the third place team from the second division should be included and Vasco who finished third should automatically find its place in the I-League for the coming season," Messais said.
"How can you induct a team directly into the I-League?" Messais questioned, adding "since it is promotion and not selection that is the criteria to be adopted."
"There is no provision in the AIFF rules for inducting any team directly into the I-League, and if that was done, then it is against the principles of fair play," he added.
He pointed out that the structure on promotions and demotions is quite clear.
"Mahindra officials had informed the AIFF before the last executive meeting that they were going to disband the team for the next season and the issue of relegations and filling up the Mahindra's vacancy should have been discussed at the last AIFF executive Committee.
"But, instead, the AIFF decided to field its own Under-19 and Under-21 teams directly in place of Mahindra United, which was not correct," said Messais.
He also cited an example from the past where the AIFF once did not allow TFA to field their junior team in the I-League after they earned a promotion in 2007.
"How, three years later, can they forget about it?" he questioned, adding HAL, which had finished third in second Division League, then had been promoted in lieu of TFA.
The situation is similar now, he said.
The AFC has set December 31, 2010 as the deadline to all clubs playing in the I-League, stating that there should be a separate commercial entity among several other requirements.
"HAL, who has been promoted to play for the coming season, should not find a place as they are not able to fulfill the criteria as laid down by the AFC," said Messais, adding clubs like Air-India are still struggling for the last three years to meet the criteria.