The All India Football Federation announced on Sunday that Chennai City FC and Minerva Punjab FC would be a part of the I-League for the 2017 season, thus making their first appearances.
The AIFF revealed that a Bid Evaluation Committee met in the governing body’s headquarters in New Delhi to look into the applicants post the re-tendering, which was announced on November 25th.
Along with Chennai City and Minerva Punjab, Sudeva FC, FC Bardez Goa and Neroca FC had also placed a bid for the upcoming season, with AIFF looking to expand the league. The new season will commence on January 7th, 2017. Minerva Punjab FC finished in the second position in the Second Division league in 2015-’16.
“I, on the behalf of AIFF, welcome Chennai City FC & Minerva Punjab FC to the I-League family and we all hope that we will have a competitive I-League,” AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das was quoted as saying by the federation’s official website.
Das saw potential in the game expanding to all corners of the country, attracting more fans, “With Chennai City FC & Minerva Punjab FC joining the fray now, we have ten teams competing in the next I-League. Now, we have representatives from Chennai and Punjab, which means we’ll reach out to more supporters and newer markets,” Das added.
Two Goan clubs, Dempo SC and Sporting Club de Goa had earlier withdrawn from the upcoming season citing the growing uncertainty of the future of football in the country after the AIFF had announced that it was considering a ‘merger’ between I-League and the cash-rich Indian Super League.