All India Football Federation president Praful Patel on Monday said Delhi could see two I-League teams in the upcoming season, reported PTI.
AIFF recently invited bids from non-I-League cities, including Delhi, Ranchi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bhopal, Lucknow and Ahmedabad, to take part in the 2020-’21 season. The previous season of the league saw 11 clubs, including AIFF’s developmental outfit Indian Arrows, take part in the competition.
Going forward, I-League’s latest champions Mohun Bagan have merged with ATK and the new team will play in the Indian Super League from the upcoming season. As for the ISL, the Delhi franchise had already shifted base to Odisha. Ahead of the 2019-’20 ISL season, Delhi Dynamos were rebranded as Odisha FC and shifted base to Bhubaneshwar after an agreement with the Odisha government.
In 2018-’19 season, there was no I-League or ISL team based out of New Delhi.
“Clubs from Delhi will be a reality soon in Hero I-league and there may be two teams from Delhi. I am personally looking into this aspect and no doubt Delhi football deserves a big focus being the capital city,” Patel said during a programme organised by Football Delhi to mark the 36th birthday of India captain Sunil Chhetri. The occasion marked Delhi Football Day.
Chhetri said he received the “best birthday gift” when Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju announced the formation of five zonal committees to hunt talent across the country.
“Sports Minister Shri Kiren Rijiju making a commitment here to locate every football talent in India and if every talent is identified and nurtured well then half of the problem of Indian football is solved. It is the best birthday gift I can ask for,” Chhetri said.
The skipper added that in a vast country like India finding talent is not an issue.
“Talent is not the problem here. We could have plenty of Olympic gold medals. I know how hard the AIFF works to get a bigger pool of players. It is very important to give the young talented players the right food, training and so on. When all this is done, it can be a monumental growth,” he said.
Former Delhi franchise chief (currently Odisha FC’s owner) Rohan Sharma had told Scroll.in in a recent interview that his team found Delhi ‘too big of a city to establish a good football base’.
Delhi is a very complicated city to run a football club. There’s obviously a lot of talent in Delhi, half of our youngsters have come through from there but for a club to be economically sustainable, it is very hard. It’s a very expensive city, as well. Look at Goa or Kolkata, they want to support their local clubs, they have that state pride as they belong from there but that wasn’t the same in Delhi as it is a diverse city,” Sharma had said.
(With PTI inputs)