After the AIFF Bid Evaluation Committee selected Sudeva FC as the winner for direct entry into the I-League, Ryntih SC’s hopes of joining the other I-League teams via direct entry were scotched. No justification has yet been given to the club by AIFF as to why their entry was dismissed to the top flight of I-League. The right to take part in the I-League was granted to Sreenidhi FC as well, albeit from 2021-22 onwards.
Ryntih Sports and Cultural Club were on their way to a direct entry to the Hero I-League 2020-21 season. They have fulfilled all the criteria laid down by the All India Football Federation (AIFF), according to the Managing Director, Mr. Wallam Kupar Kharpran, and had also presented all the respective paperworks on the said due date regarding the ownership issue sought by AIFF. This situation has been causing tension inside the Ryntih SC’s contingent and the Managing Director, Mr. Wallam Kupar Kharpran, reached out IFTWC to share his thoughts on this issue.
Through a telephonic interview, Mr. Wallam Kupar Kharpran said that, “We, officials, had a meeting with the Meghalaya Chief Minister, but we still don’t know whether we will be given entry or not. Because since August 12th the AIFF has not responded to our mail, the decision was only posted on their website.”
Mr. Kharpran continued that the AIFF hasn’t responded on as to why was Ryntih SC ineligible for the direct entry in the 2020-21 season of the Hero I-League and that this is the reason why the officials of the respective club set up a meeting with the Chief Minister of Meghalaya. Mr. Kharpran said, “The meeting was very positive. The CM told he will approach the AIFF seeking reasons for the said issue.” Mr. Kharpran explained that at the time of the bidding it was not sure if East Bengal would go to the Hero ISL or not and hence there was only one slot available at that time. He said, “Because of this, it was shocking to see that the AIFF assured the Visakhapatnam-based Sreenidhi FC a slot in the 2021-21 season.”
Mr. Kharpran stressed upon the fact that AIFF has still not responded back to their mail and that this makes it seem that the AIFF are discriminating Ryntih Sports and Cultural Club. He said, “The tender notice only mentioned about replacing Mohun Bagan, then why was Sreenidhi FC assured a spot to take part in the 2021-22 season of the Hero I-League. Why not us then.”
Mr. Kharpran said, “Sreenidhi FC has no senior team, they’re new. They only have a junior team. On the other hand, we have a senior team, we’re financially backed up, and it is discriminatory to consider Sreenidhi FC as a de facto of East Bengal. If Sreenidhi FC can be a part of 2021-22 season, then we demand to include us as well for the same.”
When asked about how the club is preparing to cope up with the situation, Mr. Kharpran answered, “If we’re denied entry for this season or the next season then we will take part in the 2nd division of Hero I-League. We have good talents with us. And we want to represent ourselves as one club from Meghalaya.” He continued, “We just want a statement from the AIFF as to why we’re ineligible for this season and if or not will we be able to take part at least in the next season.”
Mr. Kharpran said, “We have 2 – 3 promoters and also sponsorships from companies. If the AIFF assures us a spot in the Hero I-League, we’re sure that we’ll get even more reputed and well established companies to sponsor for us.”
When asked about the tie-ups with any of the foreign clubs, he replied, “We have tied-up with a club from Bhutan this year, Transport United F.C., and they have been a part of the AFC Cup for the last two years. This is one advantage that we have, because if we’re denied of entry in the Hero I-League, some of our players will get to represent Transport United F.C. in the AFC Cup. That is one of the main objectives of the club as well.”
When asked about the club’s cope-up strategies after the postponement of the State League of Meghalaya, Mr. Kharpran said, “Tournaments are reopening in Sikkim, so for sure we’ll be participating in the Chief Minister International Cup and Gold Cup. So we’ll prepare for that and after that we’ll see, there’s one Aizawl Chief Minister tournament, we’ll play there as well.” And on the topic of foreign recruitments, he said, “Due to the pandemic, we haven’t seen much about the foreign recruitments. We’ll be giving more chances for the younger talents. And then we’ll analyse in which position are we weak in the field and think about recruiting foreigners in that gap.
Given the recent incidents, on the subject matter of the morale of the players, Mr. Kharpran said, “The management and the players are still waiting for a reply from the AIFF. We still have hopes from the AIFF’s side to give us a clarification or a statement regarding this as soon as possible, so that we can prepare accordingly for the upcoming endeavours. Because we don’t know where we’re lacking, we’ve fulfilled all their criteria. We would get many sponsorers if AIFF could just give us the entry into the Hero I-League. Even if Sreenidhi FC is financially sound, they lack a senior team. So we want to know the criteria in which it was decided. Even if we are lacking a bit financially, the entry to the I-League will get us more promoters and the financial issue will be easily resolved.”
Said this much, Mr. Kharpran concluded by telling that his only request to AIFF now is to give a clarification on this issue and nothing more. Because there are some real talents in the club and their talents should not go wasted. The AIFF should understand that we’re concerned about this issue.