Kolkata: Clubs with huge fan base, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, may not follow JCT`s way but the folding up of northern India`s talent hub is a warning sign to Indian football, feel the experts.
In fact, it is ironic that JCT`s junior side won the I-League for under-19 teams on Saturday.
Running a football club being a non-profitable venture in India, sponsors solely rely on mileage which they get from media and TV rights and in the absence of that, it is doom, say the authorities, putting the ball in AIFF`s courts.
Grossly blaming the AIFF for the situation, a miffed East Bengal secretary Kalyan Majumdar told PTI "They don`t know how to market the sport and they are running the show and earning a fat salary. "AIFF is only making use of the clubs. We are supplying the talents and they are taking away from us by making some funny rules," Majumdar said, giving example of the rule that recommends 40 matches a player one season. "In fact, it would have been a similar fate for Salgaocar had they not won the I-League this season."
Majumdar however added that Kolkata teams would be spared of a JCT-like situation since there`s a huge mass following for the Big Two - East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. His counterpart at the rival club Mohun Bagan, Anjan Mitra echoed the view.
"After Mahindra United disbanded and there were news that\ Mumbai FC too were following suit, the latest development regarding JCT was little surprising," Mitra said.
"Why corporate houses would invest 8-10 crores for a profit of 80 lakh that too if the club wins all the trophies in a season. The signs were there after Mahindra United shut down last year. He said AIFF should consult club members. "It`s high time that AIFF assess the situation with the the club officials who matter most. There are no club officials in the executive committee that takes the decisions."
"We heard that IMG Reliance signed a (15 years) deal with AIFF. The will pump in USD 140 million... But we had no clue about it and how the money would be spent."
"I know Thapar (managing director of JCT) for a long time. He is an ardent football lover that I had come to know during the 2006 World Cup. I saw him sport a Portuguese jersey while supporting for the team in Germany.”
"It`s really surprising that his club shut down. For years they have been supplying talent to Indian football. It`s a big loss for us," Mitra said of the club rich with a lot of legacy in Indian football since it`s existence since 1971."
Terming it a tragedy for Indian football, the legendary PK Banerjee told PTI "For years, JCT have been a heritage club of India after Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammadan Sporting."
"It`s a very sad moment. It will have a big impact on the sport in India as for years they have been supplying powerful and talented players."
Echoing the view, veteran Subrata Bhattacharya said India should follow the England model instead of roping in foreign coaches.
"In 1970s, England were close to nothing. But they reached the grassroots level, strengthening the sport at academy and club level. They are reaping the rewards now. See how, popular or a brand commodity the sport is there nowadays. It does not happen overnight. But here cricket is everything. We must have patience.”
"It clearly shows that Indian football is not entertaining and sponsors are running in huge losses. We must follow the England model."
"Our tendency is to bring in foreign coaches and put them in an unfamiliar atmosphere. Instead, why can`t we learn the planning from them and implement it here with Indian coaches. There is no dearth of talented coaches in India," he said.
Recollecting his Durand Cup memories, Bhattacharya said "They were really a fighting unit in the 70s. I still vividly remember a goal by Inder Singh against us back in 1977."
Sending a warning to the Big Two of Kolkata, Bhattacharya said "If in future Vijay Mallya takes away support from Mohun Bagan and East Bengal then what will happen to football in Kolkata?"
"Despite Mahindra being a big corporate house, look what happened to their club."
From 1992-1997, JCT won all the major tournaments of India, with the inaugural National Football League in 1996, the Durand Cup five times (1976, 1983, 1987, 1992 and 1996), the Federation Cup twice (1995 and 1996), the Scissors Cup (1995) and the Rovers Cup (1997). They also have the distinction of being the only non-Kolkata based team to win the IFA Shield in the year 1996. and Rovers Cup in the year 1997.
JCT was the runners-up team of the 11th National Football League 2006-2007.
The northern Indian club produced some stars like G S Parmar, Inder Singh, Parminder Singh and Sukhwinder Singh while stalwarts such as Bhaichung Bhutia, I M Vijayan and Jo Paul Ancheri also made name from JCT.