Salgaocar and Sporting exit sad, says I-League CEO Sunanda Dhar

I-League CEO spoke to Sportstar on wide range of issues, from Sporting Clube de Goa and Salgaocar FC pulling out to new clubs joining the I-league.

I-League CEO Sunando Dhar at the opening ceremony of the SixthParikrma Champions League football tournament, at Bangalore FootballStadium in Bengaluru.   -  Special Arrangement

Sunanda Dhar, I-League CEO, has stated that football clubs Sporting Clube de Goa and Salgoacar FC came undone due to the lack of a strong fan base. The two Goan sides have pulled out of the I-League, after objecting to the proposed road map for Indian football, but Sunando believes that this could have been avoided.

On the sidelines of the Parikrma Champions League opening ceremony held here on Thursday, Sunando spoke about the importance of building a fan base, receiving interest from new aspiring I-League sides and more..

Exit of Sporting Clube de Goa and Salgaocar FC:

It is sad, as both clubs have contributed a lot to Indian football. They objected to the proposed I-league-ISL restructuring, but this is still a work in progress and nothing is finalised. We had told them to consider this, but unfortunately, they went in another direction.

Building a fan base:

The team management of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal had recently told us that while Sporting Clube de Goa and Salgoacar FC could consider pulling out of the I-League, they cannot even think along those lines. Bagan and East Bengal have a massive fan base, which they just cannot afford to disappoint. In the last few years, the fan base for Goan I-League clubs has reduced drastically. Sporting and Salgaocar hardly have any supporters. Even 10 years ago, Fatorda Stadium would see packed stands for a Churchill Brothers versus Salgaocar I-League match. Where did the fans go? It is not like Goa is no longer a football state — look at the big crowds for ISL matches. Instead of pointing fingers at others, the clubs should have done some deep introspection.

Tenders for new I-League clubs:

The last day to submit the documents is December 8, and the bids committee will make its decision on December 11. It is good to see Chennai City FC, owned by Rohit Ramesh, show interest. Minerva Academy and FC Bardez Goa have also shown interest.

What is expected from new bidders:

The first thing is passion and love for the game. Obviously, these clubs need funds too. We need the assurance that the club has enough financial power to stick around in the I-league. The clubs should also have its own youth academy and infrastructure in place.

Number of teams in I-League:

The minimum number is nine, which is what AIFF President Praful Patel has told us. But if we get more than nine, we will be very happy.

Tenure of new bids:

We have told the new bidders that their agreement term will last as long as the current I-League structure is in place. Once the I-League-ISL restructuring is complete, the agreement ceases to be in place. All ISL and I-League clubs, however, will have a chance to compete in the ISL or League One (lower division) through an open bidding process.