New Delhi: Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia feels that more and more clubs will go the Mahindra United and JCT way and disband themselves unless AIFF finds ways to make them better "commercial entities."
"I am definitely sad at the development of events but Indian clubs are yet to become commercial entities. As long as that doesn`t happen, more and more clubs will go the JCT way," Bhutia said on Monday.
"In 1996, when we won the inaugural National Football League and that was the golden period of JCT football myself, Vijayan, Jo-Paul (Ancheri), Carlton Chapman, Tejinder Kumar formed the core. All the stars wanted to play for JCT. But you have got to understand their sentiments. Year after year, they have been spending crores of rupees with minimal returns.
"After a certain point of time, you feel frustrated and this is what happens. I am sad but not surprised," Bhutia said in a forthright assessment of the current scenario.
Bhutia feels that lack of fanbase was both Mahindra United and JCT`s undoing.
"Unless you become a private limited company, it is difficult to develop a fanbase. Once the fans throng to the grounds, it is easier to attract the sponsors. The AIFF must also do their bit to generate good revenue through television rights which will keep the corporates interested," he explained.
Asked about the Argentina vs Venezuela match in Kolkata in September, which is likely to feature Lionel Messi, the former India captain said it will boost the popularity of the game for a "short span of time".
"But the positive part is that it`s a commercially viable product which the potential sponsors will be interested in investing. Now, one has to look at these sponsors who are investing in a football match. You have to give them a good product. At this point of time, there is sadly no assurance of good returns for the investors," Bhutia stated.
Punjab-based JCT Club on Monday disbanded itself from professional football citing lack of public interest in the game in the country.
The Punjab powerhouse side`s decision to pull out from competitive football has come a year after Mahindra United disbanded after finding itself difficult to sustain due to lack of interest in the game in the country.