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EghtesadOnline: The government has taken some measures to help resolve the problem of the two main football clubs ineligibility for AFC Championship 2022, but key ownership issues of the clubs is not expected to be solved anytime soon.

The Asian Football Federation on Friday declared Iran's top two clubs, Persepolis, Esteghlal and Gol Gohar, ineligible for the 2022 season of the continent's top club competitions, for failing to meet the "mandatory criteria" for admission.

According to Hossein Qorbanzadeh, head of the Iran Privatization Organization, state bodies have taken three important measures so far. 

The "Iran National Tax Administration has issued a certificate showing that the two clubs are in the process of tax settlement…another document was issued by the IPO regarding selling shares of the two clubs in Tehran’s stock market by February 2022," IRIB quoted him as saying. 

The Economy Ministry has also attested the separation of the two clubs board of directors, he said, "Formerly, three ministers were on the board of the two clubs. But after the latest decision each club will have two different ministers on its board."

"Despite these efforts the clubs still do not meet all the requirements of the AFC for entering the tournament," he said. 

"The AFC says that the owners of each club are still capable of significantly impacting the other club's performance."

Esteghlal (the Blues) had a private owner before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but was later put under the control of the then Physical Education Organization (now Sports Ministry). Persepolis (the Reds) had a similar fate.

"Separation of the clubs' management is not likely to take place in the foreseeable future," Qorbanzadeh concurred.

Last month it was announced that the government would sell a part of its shares in the two main football clubs in an initial public offering slated for February. 

Following the AFC ruling, several scenarios were considered for the two teams, including sale via auctions. Several efforts were made in the past to privatize Esteghlal and Persepolis, but to no avail. The baton has been passed on from one government to another. 

In May 2020, it was announced that shares of the two soccer teams would be offered via the Iran Fara Bourse after the registration and recapitalization of the clubs is over. 

As per reports, 50% of the shares were supposed to be sold to companies with more than 10,000 shareholders and the rest to cooperatives.


Football Limbo