Bhaichung Bhutia's United Sikkim FC shuts down

United Sikkim, founded by Bhaichung Bhutia, decided to shut down to focus on grassroots and avoid conflict of interest arising out of Bhutia’s association with Sikkim FA.

Bhaichung Bhutia, along with Arjun Rai and Sherap Lepcha, formed United Sikkim FC in 2004.   -  Getty Images

United Sikkim FC, founded by Bhaichung Bhutia, has decided to shut down as it wants to “focus on grassroots football” and avoid “conflict of interest” issues arising out of Bhutia’s association with Sikkim FA.

United Sikkim FC will be closed down after 15 years of existence during which it made it to top-tier I-League in 2012-13 season after winning the second division league. The club also won four titles in the state premier division, S-League.

“This has been a very difficult decision for us to take. It is with great pain that we are announcing that United Sikkim Football Club will cease to exist from today,” the club said in the statement.

“We have come to a decision to shut the club after 15 years of existence for two reasons majorly. Firstly, to focus on grassroot football and secondly, there has been a huge conflict of interest since both Bhaichung and Arjun are now part of the Sikkim Football Association,” the statement read.

“We were the first club from Sikkim and only the second from the Northeast to play in the I-League which was the highest league at that time. During that period, 14 to 18 local players were playing in the highest league in the country, compared to three or four players currently,” the club said.

Besides four state league titles, United Sikkim won the Independence Cup twice. It was the only club in India to have been sponsored by Nike in the I-League.

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