The All India Football Federation has today announced the inclusion of two more teams into the 2017 edition of the I-League which starts next month, with Minerva Punjab FC and Chennai City FC joining the fray.
The two new teams were included after three Goan clubs, Sporting Club de Goa, Dempo and Salgaocar, all pulled out of the I-League to protest the AIFF’s decision to restructure the domestic football system in the country, with the Indian Super League set to become the top football division, with the I-League to become division one.
The pull-out of the three clubs had left the league with just six clubs remaining, but the AIFF decided to reverse Aizawl FC’s relegation at the end of last season, while another Goan club, Churchill Brothers, were also reinstated after the club filed a petition in the Delhi High Court. They had earlier been removed from the league back in 2014 for failing to meet the AIFF’s licensing requirements.
The AIFF had called for bids from clubs interested in direct entry to the I-League, and five clubs – Neroca FC, Sudeva FC, FC Bardez Goa, Chennai City FC and Minerva Punjab – had all shown interest. The AIFF’s Bid Evaluation committee met earlier today and decided to select Minerva and Chennai from the list of applicants.
“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. 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.” Mr. Kushal Das said in a press release.
The 2017 I-League may be the last time major clubs like Bengaluru FC, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal might feature, as the three clubs are expected to be part of the Indian Super League which starts in October 2017, with the rest of the I-League teams becoming part of the new second division in Indian domestic football.