New Delhi, Nov 15: Retired Indian forward Bhaichung Bhutia has slammed AIFF over their negative treatment of I-League and early kick-off times following the Football Federation's fixture announcement on Tuesday (November 14).
AIFF this season decided to organise two tournaments, ISL and I-League simultaneously in the same way.
However, after the release of the tournament fixture list, the question rises again if the Indian football's governing body is prioritising the cash riched league ahead of I League after the newly formed league was given a better kick-off time- 5-30/8.00 PM whereas all of the I-League matches were scheduled of an early 2.00 PM kick-off.
After the disclosure of the fixture list, many fans vented their anger in social media mainly due to the 2 PM kick-offs even for the big games like the Kolkata derby and Bhaichung Bhutia, who is presently an advisor to All India Football Federation (AIFF) also showed his disappointment over the decision and took the social media platform to express his frustration.
In a tweet, the Sikkimese-Bhutia descent player said: "What a shame. I league deserves much better. Both leagues should survive and do well but not by killing each other."
Bhutia has been very open in showing his ideas about the development and the handle of Indian football. He earlier expressed his opinion on a potential ISL, I-League merger and again yesterday he expressed the same thought in his tweet when one of his fans asked him about the merging.
He said: "I completely agree. In long-term w, need one league with 15 to 18 teams."
I-League this season will see two notable absence from their tournament as Two-time I-League champions Bengaluru FC will not feature in this year’s I-League after they opted to participate in Indian Super League from this season whereas another side, DSK Shivajians won’t take part in the tournament because of their lack of funds and interest.
In their absence, newcomers Gokulam FC from Kerala and Neroca FC from Manipur will take part in this season’s I-League. The tournament will kick off from November 25 and Kolkata giant Mohun Bagan will play the opener with an away game against Minerva Punjab FC.