Mumbai, July 22: In a massive reprieve for FC Goa, the appeals panel of Indian Super League (ISL) today (July 22) revoked the 15-point penalty imposed on the club for "bringing disrepute" to the event following last year's final besides reducing the Rs 11 crore fine and lifting the ban on the franchise owners.
In an unprecedented decision in May, FC Goa were slapped with a whopping fine of Rs 11 crore, which was today reduced to Rs 6 crore, while their co-owners Srinivas Dempo and Dattaraj Salgaocar were banned for two and three seasons respectively for 'bringing disrepute' to the tournament.
The outfit had also been docked 15 points even before the start of season three. However, the Indian Super League Regulatory Commission reconsidered the decision after an appeal made by Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), a joint venture between IMG-Reliance and Star India, and FC Goa.
The final of the 2015 edition of the ISL was marred by violence and controversy when players and officials of FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC engaged in scuffles after the conclusion of the match, with the Goans also boycotting the prize distribution ceremony.
"Appeals Panel has reduced the FC Goa's financial penalty to Rs. 6 crore from the earlier Rs. 11 crore. The Appeals Panel also stated that this amount to be paid to FSDL, should be utilised for investments solely in grassroots development programmes for football in the country. Appeals Panel also set aside Rs. 1 crore penalty levied on FC Goa to be paid to Chennaiyin FC as part of the latter's legal expenses," the ISL said in a statement.
The dispute ensued after FC Goa alleged that Chennaiyin FC captain and marquee player Elano Blumer had assaulted their co-owner Dattaraj Salgaocar, prompting a boycott of the prize distribution ceremony by the Goan club.
"ISL Appeals Panel has revoked the respective ban on two of FC Goa's owners, viz. Dattaraj Salgaocar and Srinivas Dempo. The decision was taken (on the) basis of letter of regret submitted by the owners and Elano Blumer, to the ISL Appeals Panel, terming the incidents as something that happened in the heat of the moment.
"Since it was a first time offence and based on the regret letters received, the Appeals Panel has revoked the respective bans on the owners."
The Regulatory Committee's earlier decision to dock 15 points threatened to turn FC Goa's next ISL campaign into an exercise in futility.
As per the tournament organisers, the Appeals Panel today stated, "In response to FSDL's appeal against docking of 15 points of FC Goa ahead of ISL season 2016, the ISL Appeals Panel found merit in FSDL's argument 'to keep football fans interest above all matters, and to provide a level field for all teams'.
"The ISL Appeals Panel in its judgement revoked the sanction on 15 points docked on FC Goa, thus allowing FC Goa to start their ISL 2016 campaign on par with other teams in the League."
FSDL said it was delighted with the verdict and thanked ISL's Regulatory Committee and Appeals Panel. It stated, "FSDL management accepts Appeal Panel's order. FSDL is delighted for the fans of FC Goa as the Panel today revoked verdict on docking of points. Goa has come together in unified colour since the inception of ISL. The fans' unwavering support for FC Goa has only helped the growth of football in the state.
"FSDL looks forward to the upcoming season with renewed vigour to continue the football momentum it has built over the last two years." The ISL Appeals Panel comprised of former Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Kshitij Vyas.