Indian Football News: "If our own parent body sabotages us, how can we survive," asks Minerva Punjab Owner Ranjit Bajaj
"I'm begging and pleading with the AIFF now to do whatever they can. Please help us," Minerva Punjab FC owner Ranjit Bajaj said in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, after his club were denied permission to play their AFC Cup group stage home games at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
Bajaj alleges that the AIFF is going out of their way to sabotage him and his club, and this was the latest installment in that series.
"Even before the Super Cup was scheduled, we had all permissions granted at the Kalinga Stadium, the AFC inspections were carried out, and they were satisfied," Bajaj said.
He also said that Minerva were requested to rearrange their AFC Cup fixtures, in order to ensure the Kalinga Stadium was available for the AIFF's Super Cup to be held.
Now, though, Bajaj has been told by the Odisha Sports Authority that because the Kalinga Stadium is a possible venue for the 2020 FIFA Women's U-17 World Cup, it is going to undergo some renovation activities, due to which the permission granted to Minerva had been revoked.
"With less than 30 days to go, we can't even change our home ground, according to AFC regulations," Bajaj says, "And now, the club faces a ban of two to five years, depending on the sanctions the AFC decides."
Bajaj also said that the timing of the revoking of permission was hugely suspicious to him. When Minerva received the notice, they had 27 days left to play their first home game, which is on May 1st, against Nepal's Manang Marshyangdi FC.
"I have been sabotaged, no doubt. If the AIFF can give us this treatment when we're representing the country in an international tournament as the champions of India, it reflects the sad state of affairs," Bajaj said.
Minerva's owner also said that if it eventually pans out that the Kalinga Stadium isn't allowed for their usage, he will shut the club down.
"I know now why so many clubs shut down, we will be the 24th club."
Bajaj also lamented the general lack of support from the federation.
"Across age groups, we've had 60 boys play for India. If we could do that with barely any money, imagine what we could have done with the federation's support," he exclaimed.
"They've made my life a living hell for the past two years. If they are sabotaging us in international competitions, why will they not do it in the domestic leagues?" Bajaj asked.
Bajaj said that he's tired of fighting battles on a daily basis, citing all the arbitrary fines and punishments dealt out to him over the past couple of years.
"Whether it's the senior league or the junior leagues, they are not going to spare us, so why should I continue?" he concluded.