East Bengal, one of Indian football's oldest clubs, today told FIFA and AFC officials not to write them off even though it doesn't have the money to match the ISL franchises.
"Yes we have no money, no sponsors but just because we don't have the money you cannot write us off. They will have their conclusion as per reality. But we tried our best to negotiate. We won't bow down at any cost," East Bengal assistant secretary Shanti Ranjan Dasgupta said after their meeting with FIFA-AFC officials who are here on a market research for I-League-ISL merger.
"We will keep the club's heritage high, safeguard the interest of East Bengal. There's no room for compromise."
A two-member team of Nic Coward, a consultant to FIFA, and Alex Phillips, head of AFC-UEFA affairs concluded their two-day visit by hearing out the three clubs and Indian Football Association, the governing body of the sport in West Bengal.
FIFA-AFC will draft the blueprint of Indian football roadmap by October-November after their market research to make the one nation, one league dream a reality by next season.
This season the merger of ISL and I-League failed as the Kolkata's heritage clubs said they were unable to pay the hefty franchise fee of Rs 15 crore.
FIFA and AFC officials also visited Mohammedan Sporting Club and Mohun Bagan.
The two-member delegation was accompanied by I-League CEO Sunanda Dhar and FSDL official Chirag Tanna.
At Mohammedan Sporting they had a discussion with general secretary Ghazal uz Zafar, football secretary Sharique Ahmed, ground secretary Mohammed Qamaruddin, chairman of football committee Dipendu Biswas and senior official Belal Ahmed Khan.
In the meeting the club has demonstrated it's rich legacy and the recent success in youth development, and the delegates took note of the points made by the club and praised it's efforts in youth development.