Punjab FC (formerly Minerva Punjab FC) player Nidhin Lal has accused his club of blocking his salary for the last eight months. The goalkeeper who represented Indian Super League side Chennaiyin FC in the 2015-16 season, joined Minerva from Shillong Lajong a year ago.
Since his arrival he claims the club has failed to pay him and isn’t working on a transfer either.
The player even alleged that the club threatened to end his career should he exercise his legal opportunities, in an exclusive he gave to Sports India Show.
The Kerala born keeper started his professional football career 12 years ago and has played 30 I-League games. Starting from the Tamil Nadu Santosh Trophy team to a stint in the Indian Super League, Lal has seen his fair share of ups and downs.
In the 2015-16 transfer window he took his chance moving from Lajong after just one season. But his new club has proved to he a nightmare for the former Chennaiyin player he claims.
Q: Please tell us your concerns about your current situation with Minerva Punjab
Lal: Yes, since I joined Minerva last year, there have been problems ever since. I have been not paid for the last eight months. I signed a two-year contract and I am not been transfer listed either. The club won’t let me go neither pay my salary.
Q: What does your agent say about this situation?
Lal: My agent says there are a few clubs interested in me, but Minerva isn’t allowing to listen to any offers or negotiate with them.
Q: Did you ask Minerva to release you?
Lal: I did. But they aren’t willing to listen to me. The club has denied me the opportunity to leave and threatened to end my career if I take any legal action against them. My career is in turmoil now, I don’t know when I’ll play again.
Q: Have you spoke to AIFF (All India Football Federation) about this situation?
Lal: It’s been three months since I took this matter to AIFF and they have been stalling my case. I filed a complaint just a few weeks after Minerva stopped paying my salary, but nothing has been done and no one has contacted me.
Q: What are you planning to do next?
Lal: I have played professional football for 12 years but I have never faced such problems elsewhere. I played for Chennaiyin FC and Lajong and none of them ever treated me like Minerva do. My contract runs till 2020 and I guess I have to wait till then. My agent told me there are a couple of teams have offered to sign me, but unless Minerva doesn’t sort out this situation I’m stuck in between.
Q: What are your message to the club and the AIFF?
Lal: I would just ask my club to pay my due salary and clarify my paperworks as soon as possible. I would also like to make young footballers aware about the financial recklessness of the Indian clubs.
SportsIndiaShow further contacted Minerva FC owner Ranjit Bajaj on his club’s stance on the matter;
Q: What is the club’s stance on the accusation levelled by Nidhin Lal?
Bajaj: The accusations by Nidhin Lal is completely false. The player himself left without informing any of the club officials and hasn’t contacted us since.
Q: Is it true that the club hasn’t paid him since eight months?
Bajaj: We contacted Nidhin several times but he hasn’t returned our calls. We have no problems paying him, but he needs to show up at the club to sort this matter out.
Q: Did AIFF contact you about this issue?
Bajaj: Yes, they have asked us to wait and have said that they are willing to provide him an No Objection Certificate very soon. Again, we are eager to sort this situation out with Nidhin, but he has to show up at the club.