Thrice champions Mohun Bagan survived anxious moments in the second half to stave off the ignominy of relegation with a 1-1 draw against Churchill Brothers in a ninth National Football League encounter in Kolkata on Wednesday.
Bagan finished the league with 23 points from 22 matches to take eighth place, while Churchill, who culled the same number of points as Bagan, joined SBT, Tollygunge Agragami and Vasco on the demotion list to the Second Division, because of an inferior goal difference.
However, there is talk of the AIFF revising its original policy of relegating four clubs and allowing them to continue in the premier league to ensure the participation of 16 teams in the next edition.
About 20,000 people turned up at the Salt Lake stadium hoping to see Mohun Bagan, regarded the country's national soccer club, stay in the high profile league.
The green and maroon brigade began on a positive note, establishing early supremacy over their opponents, and shot into the lead through their Brazilian striker Roberto Mendez de Silva, alias Beto, in the 19th minute.
However, the tendency to concede goals late in the match, which has been Bagan's undoing throughout the season, once again haunted them.
Capitalising on sloppy defending by the Bagan rearguard, Marcos Pereira restored parity for Churchill in the 76th minute.
Buoyed by the success, the Goa side made several forays into the Bagan defence, but failed to net another goal though they came close to scoring on a couple ofÂ occasions.