Dhiman Sarkar and Bhargab Sarmah
Some players of Hyderabad FC and Phil Brown, who was sacked as head coach in January, have written to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) saying they have not been paid this year. Hyderabad FC, a new franchise in the six-season old Indian Super League (ISL), played their last match on February 20. They finished last in the 10-team competition that began on October 20, 2019. “The foreign players are in discussion because all the payments from Hyderabad happened with delays of 2 or 3 months (sic). Of course, understandable because is a new franchise. The point is: all the deadlines have been told with lies and now with the corona outbreak, they said it is not possible to make any payment. We know the bank is open and working normally,” a foreign player said. The player requested anonymity given the delicate nature of the issue.
“The players are in a difficult situation with quarantine and trying to find a solution,” he said. Brown, who coached Hull City from December 2006 to March 2010, has written to the AIFF separately, a federation official said.
“Brown’s letter reached the AIFF nearly a fortnight ago. The players wrote to the federation at the end of the season also saying they haven’t been paid since the turn of the year,” said the official.
The ISL ended on March 14 with the final in Goa between winners ATK and Chennaiyin FC played behind closed doors.
“It was on the advice of people in the ISL that we wrote to the AIFF. They told us that the only way to get support from the AIFF and the ISL is to go to them,” said one of those who wrote to the federation.
“Yes, we have received letter from some players and Phil Brown and we have reached out to Hyderabad FC who have sought time. I am hopeful the franchise will sort this out. If they don’t and we hear from the players and Brown again, we will take action,” said Kushal Das, the AIFF general secretary.
Hyderabad FC didn’t respond to the specific claim of payments not being cleared. “Under the extraordinary circumstances that has resulted after the COVID-19 outbreak, Hyderabad Football Club is in consultation with the concerned parties and the AIFF regarding any matters there may be. Considering the current scenario, we believe it will be right to comment on it at a more appropriate time,” said Nitin Pant, the club’s Chief Operating Officer.
Brown refused to comment when contacted on his mobile phone in England.
Sacked after the 1-3 loss to Chennaiyin FC on January 10, Brown, 60, has written that Hyderabad FC owe him salary till May as part of their 10-month contract.
Brown had said he was enjoying the experience of coaching in India. In an interview to the British broadsheet ‘The Telegraph’ last August, he said the experience of coaching in ISL had ‘revitalised’ him.
As FC Pune City coach, Brown had cancelled a training session and played ‘Holi’ with players and staff. He also took to Indian cuisine, asking the chefs at the team hotel in Pune to make him different dishes.
Brown, who sang on the pitch, ‘This is the best trip I have been on’, after keeping Hull City in the Premiership, had also said: “I’m there on the training ground with 25 players hanging off my every word – I don’t think that’s the case in England.”
“I am enjoying the culture, the people and the challenge of football here,” said Brown, who played for Bolton Wanderers, as Hyderabad FC coach.
Brown came to India as FC Pune City coach mid-season in December 2018. When the Pune franchise wound up last August and transferred participating rights to Hyderabad FC, Brown and a host of players shifted to the new team.
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