New Delhi: In what could be termed as a major jolt to Indian football, two clubs – Pune FC and Bharat FC are on the verge of pulling out of the I-League.
Accoding to a report in Goal.com, Ashok Piramal Group-owned Pune FC is set to pull the plug on its first team operations. However, the club is likely to continue with their academy project that runs teams in three age groups – Under-19, Under-17 and Under-15.
Pune FC ranks among the most professionally run football clubs in the country. Hence this decision, stemming from their disillusionment with the state of football affairs in the country, comes as a blow to the All India Football Federation (AIFF).
No source of revenues, issues of broadcasting rights and the absence of a concrete blueprint for Indian football going forward are reasons that have compelled the club's owners to cease their investment in the first team of the club.
The future of another Pune-based club Bharat FC too remains uncertain. The team made their debut in India's top-flight football last season, finishing bottom despite investing heavily. Backed by the Bharat Forge Group, the club was not relegated due to the AIFF grant.
The Goal.com report further adds that Bharat FC are yet to sign players on their roster. The club's problems seem to have compounded with the resignations of its CEO Suvrat Thatte and other members of the staff.
The club's owners are scheduled to meet AIFF president Praful Patel to arrive at a final decision association with Indian football.
It is also believed that Patel had previously considered the idea of merging both the Pune outfits. But since the both team owners are no longer willing to invest any further, it is highly unlikely that a merger will take place.
It must be noted that there has been no official confirmation of their decision to pull out of I-league from both clubs as well as the AIFF.
Situation of this nature is not new in Indian football. Other notable teams that have backed out from India's premier league include Mahindra United and JCT Mills Phagwara.