The I-league season was suspended indefinitely in mid-March with four rounds yet to play due to the global outbreak of pandemic Coronavirus. On 18 April, All India Football Federation (AIFF), the football governing body in the country, declared Mohun Bagan as winners, and cancelled the 28 remaining matches.

 

Mohun Bagan had already rocketed to an unassailable lead in the league, with 39 points from 16 games before the government ordered all leagues to be suspended. East Bengal, Minerva Punjab and Real Kashmir were all vying for the second spot, but at the end, it did not matter.

Several I-league clubs were reportedly forced to activate the ‘Force Majeure’ clause in player contracts, and not pay the players as per their contracts. Force Majeure is clause 5.6 in Schedule 2 of the general provisions of the Standard Contract which states that “failure by a party to fulfill any of its obligations under the agreement shall not be considered to be a breach of or a default under, the agreement in so far as the inability arises from an event of force majeure.”

 

Clubs owners understand the plea of the players, but are left with no choice. A few clubs also have clauses in contracts that state the players will be paid till their last competitive match that was played. The league’s last competitive game was played on March 14, and this clearly suggests that players will not receive salaries for April and May.

“I know of some clubs who are not even paying March salaries, but we will not do that. We played games in March, so will respect our commitment. The players know that they cannot demand for salaries beyond that, if the AIFF decides to cancel the league,” Gokulam Kerala FC owner VC Praveen told TOI.

 

With the ongoing season already declared concluded, East Bengal has reportedly activated the force majeure clause in players’ contracts, serving them with a termination notice a month before the scheduled closure of the season.

 

Times of India has reported that in a letter to the players, QEBFC chief executive officer Sanjit Sen has written that the company will be “rendered unable to carry out its principle objective of managing and running football matters” beyond this month.

 

“In the light of the current situation and as per directives received from the principle shareholder Quess Corp Limited, we regret to intimate to you the premature cessation of your professional contract with Quess East Bengal FC under the ‘Force Majeure Clause’ of the agreement. The Cessation will be effective 30th April 2020 and this will imply that your prorated monthly salary will be payable till the effective date of cessation by Quess East Bengal FC,” Sen has stated in an email sent to all the players.

 

Meanwhile, the Kolkata club is expected to continue the services of head coach Mario Rivera and his support staff into the next season.

 

The entire footballing diaspora has been affected massively due to the outbreak of COVID-19. According to reports, every Premier League club is expected to lose £9m-a-week and may force them to take out £100m bank loan. As the world awaits to emerge from the pangs of the pandemic, footballers and clubs in India, expectedly have taken a hit as well.

 

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