The Hero I-League was hit with an exodus just a week ago when Salgaocar FC and Sporting Clube de Goa announced they were withdrawing from the national first division league system.
According to the management of the two Goan sides, the proposal to revamp the league by merging it with the Indian Super League and doing away with promotion and relegation, for the time being, is their main reason for backing out and they aren’t the only ones. If reports are to be believed, Dempo FC has been equally disappointed with the new proposed structure and could be announcing their departure soon.
However, this isn’t the first time clubs have backed out from the league. Mahindra United, JCT FC, Pune FC, Royal Wahingdoh and Bharat FC have all dropped out of the I-League in recent times. With just seven teams left in the league as of now, here’s a look back at the best moments of the clubs who have exited the I-League.
#1 Salgaocar FC
It’s a downright shame that league-winning clubs such as Salgaocar are abandoning the I-League but such is life in Indian football. After a shaky first half during the 2009-10 season, the appointment of new manager Karim Bencherifa changed the club’s fortunes in the near future. Bencherifa turned the club’s form around and made sure they finished at least in the top half of the table but the real cherry on the cake came the next year.
With not a single national player in the team, they seemed destined to finish as a mid-table side but Salgoacar had ideas of their own. Bencherifa made it clear they were aiming for a top three finish but then they went ahead and did one better.
Towards the end of the season, they just had to get past their immediate competition, East Bengal and Dempo and the Goans sure did it in style. They beat JCT 2-0 during their final game of the season and won the I-League with a five-point lead.