Goan club Dempo SC has announced its withdrawal from the 2016-’17 I-League and have cited the uncertainty of the future of the competition with All India Football Federation announcing the possibility of merging the domestic competition with the cash-rich, franchise-based Indian Super League. This has plunged the troubled I-League into further trouble, with only seven teams left in the league.

The club, who are one of the premier players in the Indian domestic league for the last 50 years, mentioned that the decision was made after meeting with the promoters and the management. The operating costs also was also mentioned as a stumbling block for the five-time league champions.

A release from Dempo FC read, “Considering the high cost of fielding and maintaining a team in the I-League and the uncertainty regarding the reorganization of the competition, the promoters of the Dempo Group of Companies and the management of the club have decided that it will not be worthwhile to make the considerable additional investment required to field a team in the I-League. Therefore, with great regret, we wish to inform you that we will not field a team in the forthcoming I-League (2016-17).“

Dempo, however, promised to look after its youth development programmes and revealed that they would be launching a football academy next year, “However, mindful of our responsibilities towards football, not to say of our love for the game, we shall redouble our efforts and investments in the grassroots and youth development programmes to prepare the soccer stars of the future.”

“We are glad to inform you that we are also launching a football academy from the next scholastic year onwards. This decision does not, of course, preclude our option to re-enter the I-League or any new competition introduced by the AIFF / I-League in coming times. We harbor the certainty that you understand our point of view and the circumstances that have prompted our decision,” The release added, hinting at Dempo’s doors being open for re-entering the scene, presumably the integrated competition.