I-League 2017: Minerva Punjab owner Ranjit Bajaj incensed with ban, set to appeal

The owner of the I-League team has defended the club's stance on goalkeeper Ravi Kumar who has been picked by ISL side NorthEast United FC

Minerva Punjab's owner Ranjit Bajaj was handed a stadium ban of eight matches along with a fine of Rs. 7 Lacs by the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) Disciplinary Committee earlier this week.

Reacting to that ban, he told Goal that he was shocked with the sheer magnitude of the committee's decision and was left searching for a precedent.

"Honestly, I was shocked when I received their communication. I had earlier received a showcause notice and I made it clear that I used no abusive language towards the referee. However, they have gone ahead and banned me from the stadium for eight games along with this huge monetary fine as well!

"I wouldn't have been as surprised had they gone with the usual sanctions they impose on similar offenses, which would have been a suspension from the bench for a couple of matches. But a stadium ban? I was up the whole of last night looking up precedents and could find none.

"Stadium bans are handed out for racial abuse or inciting hatred or match fixing. What is the gravity of the offense they claim I have committed as compared to these?

Ranjit Bajaj handed eight-match ban by the AIFF Disciplinary Committee

"I have put my all into my team and am unable to watch them play, even from the stands! I am even more concerned about my U-18 team. I mentor those kids, coach them, we are very close, and I cannot even take them out for matches!"

When asked if he would go ahead and appeal the decision, he had no doubts.

"Definitely I will appeal this. The ban and the fine have no precedent. They say that this ban is for an accumulation of offenses, but I have already received a red card and served that suspension, giving me a clean slate.

"But what is the purpose of the appeal even if they reduce the ban? Today my team played East Bengal, which is one of the biggest matches in our club's history, and I was forced to watch from the team hotel despite making the trip to Kolkata!"

He also expressed surprise at the media getting to know the news and details of his suspension even before he received an email from the AIFF as Minerva head coach Surinder Singh was asked questions about Bajaj's ban during the pre-match press conference, a full hour-and-a-half before Bajaj himself got to know.

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