The story of Indian football clubs disbanding their sides for want of financial stability is nothing new in the country. Despite being the champion club of the country, Aizawl FC had been experiencing such thoughts of desperation ever since it made history as the first club from North-East to win the I-League. But instead of taking the path of self-immolation it has devised a survival strategy to sustaining its financial ability. The club has enlisted itself as a construction company with the Mizoram government and has already won a bid to construct a road in Bunghmun West in the neighbouring Lunglei district.
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“If you look at the recent story of our talented forward H. Lalmuankima taking a midseason transfer to the ISL side FC Goa, it does not speak ill about the player’s commitment but it is more about our club’s inability to sustain his demand for a raised salary,” says Vanlalnghaka Chhawnchhek, the Aizawl FC general secretary. “The club’s financial health is in poor shape as we do not have enough sponsors. We call it the People’s Club so closing it down was not the solution. We had to find out a way to sustain it,” the top Aizawl FC official tries to justify the unusual decision taken by the club.
“Ever since he took over the ownership of the club early in 2011, our president Mr. Robert Royte has been looking for ways to make the club financially self-reliant. Getting into the construction business came as a good option as we will be getting lot of support from NECS (North East Consultancy Services), the company owned by Mr. Royte,” Mr. Chhawnchehek says. Aizawl FC now sports the NECS logo on its jersey but with the new arrangement taking place the reliance on the previous company, which is a part of the Mizoram based TT Royte Group, will be reduced.
When asked why the club with such a big fan following did not reach out to big corporate sponsors, the Aizawl secretary says there were lots of sponsorship offers but the most of them came from spirit brands. “Drugs and alcoholism are big problems in our society and the club could seek the patronage of companies manufacturing spirits,” Mr. Chhawnchehek said. “As a professional club we have a huge expenditure as need to pay the players and the coaching staff every season. We can now expect that Aizawl FC’s new business arm will be able to supplement the club’s financial needs,” the Aizawl FC secretary looked with hope as his team prepared for another battle to retain the coveted crown.