Super Cup 2018: I-League champions Minerva Punjab pull out of tournament citing lack of finances
I-League champions Minerva Punjab have pulled out the inaugural edition of the Super Cup, just hours after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced the main draw (Round of 16).
Minerva team owner Ranjit Bajaj confirmed to Sportskeeda on Monday night, that he has decided to pull his team out of the competition, citing lack of finances, and the uncertainty surrounding the duration for which the club would have to pay its players.
“We’ve pulled out of Super Cup already," said Bajaj.
"There are two, three reasons behind our decision. After winning the league, in this tournament, if you lose just one match, you are out. There’s no point in playing the Cup. Just because everyone’s playing, it’s become a knockout. Basically, we will have to pay two months of salaries to all the players and it can be just for one match,” he said.
"The food, stay, lodging, nothing is being taken care of by the AIFF. On top of that, I find it morally wrong that the ISL teams will come and stay in five-star hotels, because they can afford it," said Bajaj. "But we'll have to stay in three-star hotels because we can't afford it.
"But we'll be playing the same team on the pitch the next day. So I don't think that its fair on the players that they are made to feel that way. We are participating in the same tournament. So the AIFF must make sure that we all get the same status, same food, same everything. Just because they can afford better stuff, you can't make us feel like this," said.
Bajaj, whose club won the I-League in just their second year in the competition, also went on to state that the overall cost for participation in the tournament comes to around Rs 50 lakh (excluding player salaries).
"We can't afford it, man. I'd rather spend that money on my youth development," said Bajaj. "On top of that, we'll be playing in 42 degrees in Bhubaneswar. There's no positive in this whatsoever."
Minerva were set to play ISL debutants Jamshedpur FC in their Round of 16 tie in the Super Cup main draw. However, with the Chandigarh-based club pulling out of the tournament, it remains to be seen what step the AIFF takes with regards to the Round of 16 match.