New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) The I-League suffered another severe set-back Tuesday as new inductee Mumbai Tigers decided to pull out due to lack of preparations, reducing the elite football league to a 13-team tournament.
The decision of Mumbai Tigers, owned by the Dodsal Group, comes five days after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) decided to disband its development squad Pailan Arrows due to paucity of funds.
Mumbai Tigers and JSW were the two teams inducted by the AIFF to play in the I-League from this season. Mumbai Tigers' sudden move will upset the league schedule that starts in less than 20 days.
"Citing unavoidable circumstances, Mumbai Tigers have decided not to take part in the 2013-14 season of I-League, requesting further for their involvement in the 2nd Division League for this season," the AIFF said in a statement.
"The Mumbai-based club informed the AIFF that they are not ready at the moment to participate in the First Division and need more time to prepare for participation in the I-League," it said.
I-League chief executive Sunando Dhar told IANS that the league will go ahead with 13 teams.
"We have been taken completely by surprise. We suddenly got a letter from Mumbai Tigers that they are not ready to play in the I-League this season. Only 13 teams will be there in the I-League this year," he said.
Dhar said the I-League schedule would not be re-drawn.
"There is no need to prepare a new schedule. Those matches involving Mumbai Tigers will be scrapped from the schedule," Dhar said.
Mumbai Tigers, who were already playing in the second division, as per their new agreement with the AIFF, were to raise Rs.3 crore each year for fielding a team in the I-League.
Dhar said the AIFF executive committee will decide whether any action will be taken against Mumbai Tigers.