Real Kashmir Football Club’s founding member Shamim Meraj has parted ways with the trailblazing outfit, ending the four-year association due to “personal” reasons.

Meraj, whose family owns the Kashmir Monitor newspaper, co-founded the club with Sandeep Chattoo in 2016.

“It was his personal decision. He just had some issues of his own. Since last year he has been wanting to not be associated with the club because of his personal reasons,” Sandeep Chattoo told Scroll.in.

“He’s my younger brother and we still remain the best of friends. This is nothing apart from his personal choice,” he added.

Some reports suggested that Meraj was unhappy with the club’s playing style but Chattoo suggested that was not the case.

“We were shocked to read those reports. There was just a slight mention from him that we would like to change the style of play. That’s because in the last two years we gained experience and evaluated the positives and negatives of our style. It was just a casual mention that was taken out of proportion,” he said.

With Meraj’s departure, Chattoo has become the sole owner of the club that took Indian football by storm in only its second season in top-flight by finishing third in the I-League. However, he believes it won’t have any implications on the way the club is run.

“The club was completely financed by me, my companies and sponsors, so his departure won’t have any financial implications. There will be few structural changes but no major changes,” Chattoo said.

In 2017-18, the Snow Leopards became champions of the second division league and the first club from Kashmir to qualify for top-flight football in India.

In their very first season in the top tier, RKFC caught the attention of everyone with their fine display and at one point were in the reckoning for the title as well.

The team from the valley also did well last season and finished fourth in the table with 22 points from 15 matches before the league was suspended.

RKFC also reached the semifinals of the Durand Cup where they were beaten by Mohun Bagan.

(With inputs from PTI)