Kolkata, March 13 (IANS) Surprise I-League champions Minerva Punjab FC on Tuesday said they will pay salaries of domestic players as soon as they receive their dues from the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
The Punjab-based club also expressed hope of playing the Super Cup which they had opposed to earlier.
According to knowledgeable sources, many of the younger Indian players are yet to get their salaries and this has been the case for months.
“Yes, it’s true that some of the players did not get their salaries for the last month. We will clear the dues as soon as we can. We are targetting by end of next week. We have some dues from AIFF and as soon as we get that, we will move ahead with payment of players,” Minerva owner Ranjit Bajaj’s wife Henna told IANS.
Minerva defied all odds to bag the coveted I-League crown earlier in the month as the title race went down the wire.
The Punjab side relegated Churchill Brothers by beating them 1-0 in the final round of fixtures to win the league.
The source close to the team management had also said that the owners will be off to Maldives on vacation leaving the players in the lurch. Henna denied such allegations, saying they will stay put until the players’ salaries issue is resolved.
“We are not going to Maldives. We are staying here and our priority is to clear the dues of the players,” she said.
The foreign players, though, have received their remuneration, the source added.
The AIFF still owes them part of the subsidy money and some other allowances, Henna said. The prize money of Rs 1 crore for winning the I-League is also due.
“We met Mr (Sunando) Dhar, I-League CEO, today and he assured us that the money would come soon. We are a bit cash strapped but the effort is there to pay the salaries as soon as we can,” Henna said.
Minerva’s financial plight has also been highlighted in their refusal to take part in the upcoming Super Cup.
Henna though sounded optimistic about playing the Super Cup. “We are likely to take part in the Super Cup. We had a few reservations. However, the meeting today was fruitful,” Henna said.
The club, which finished the league with 35 points from 18 outings, wrote to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) saying they run on a shoestring budget and cannot participate in the knockout competition between the I-League and Indian Super League (ISL) teams as it does not mention providing any financial aid to the club for the 21-day-long meet.
The Super Cup qualifiers will start from March 31 and the final round will go on till April 20. Minerva are scheduled to play their first match against ISL debutants Jamshedpur FC at the Kalinga stadium on April 2.