The future of the Super Cup, set to start in Bhubaneswar from Friday, is under a cloud as the opening match between Minerva Punjab FC and FC Pune City looks to be a non-starter with Minerva confirming as late as match-day morning that they are yet to decide on their participation in the 16-team tournament.
The Super Cup is India's major knockout tournament hosted by the AIFF which pits I-League and Indian Super League (ISL) clubs against each other. While the top 6 teams from the two leagues are automatic picks, the last four places are won after a qualification round.
"We are not yet sure about playing today as the All India Football Federation (AIFF) does not even have five minutes to speak to us," a dejected team official told IANS.
With Quess East Bengal confirming solidarity and Churchill Brothers joining hands with the seven agitating clubs, the future of the tournament is anything but bleak.
"We (I-League clubs) have been asking the AIFF to sit with us and discuss our issues since February 18. But they have preferred to remain silent," the official said.
According to media reports, the AIFF has been inclined to douse the fire, but they are yet to sit with the clubs. Now it is to be seen what steps AIFF takes in this matter. When contacted by IANS, AIFF officials didn't respond.
Earlier, eight I-League clubs had decided to withdraw from the Super Cup on Tuesday after their plea was not heard by the AIFF. The clubs had written to the president and requested a meeting to 'seek answers' regarding the league's future.
The letter - bearing the names of top office-bearers of Aizawl FC, Chennai City, Churchill Brothers, Gokulam Kerala, Minerva Punjab, Mohun Bagan, Neroca and East Bengal - said the teams also wanted to discuss the league's potential relegation to the second division in Indian football, with the ISL "all set to be branded the top league of the country."
They alleged "interference" of AIFF's marketing partners Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) in the decision making in Indian football.