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Future of Pune clubs looking bleak as Bharat FC release players

Faizan Qadiri
789   //    31 Aug 2015, 16:13 IST
Justin Stephen was exceptional for Mumbai FC last season

According to Goal, Bharat FC have terminated the contracts of Ashutosh Mehta and Justin Stephen along with two other players ahead of their second season in the I-League. Bharat FC finished rock bottom on the I-League table in their maiden campaign but were not relegated as they had gained entry as a corporate team.

Ashutosh Mehta and Justin Stephen were bought from I-League club, Mumbai FC at the end of last season, but since then the circumstances have changed. Bharat FC along with city club Pune FC are planning on shutting down operations permanently.

This looks like the first step to shut down the club completely as the I-League faces the possibility of a season with just nine clubs in the league. Following the controversy in Pune, the AIFF thought of offering Dempo a chance to participate in the I-League, after they had been relegated last season. However, the three-time I-League winners rejected the offer stating,”“Our team is already formed. We have cut down our budget for the (senior) team and have diverted a lot of resources towards youth development.”

In order to avoid the fiasco of last season, Bharat FC sent out offer letters to a number of players in different clubs  as soon as the league ended but did not actually sign anyone officially. It was though that the Mumbai FC duo were ready to sign the dotted line, but now they will have to look for new clubs.

The players have been alerted about the new development

Goal reported that the players had been sent a mail to let them know about the new development. Goal quoted a source close to the club stating, “A mail was sent by Bharat FC’s Jagdish Agarwal – who is the Vice-President (Finance) at Bharat Forge wherein they mentioned of having cancelled their offer letter for the said players and that they were free to join any club.”

Mehta and Stephen will play in the upcoming second season of the Indian Super League for Anelka’s FC Mumbai City and Materazzi’s Chennaiyin FC respectively when the league begins on the 3rd of October 2015.

Earlier Bharat FC co-owner Kunal Agarwal had said, “We should have more clarity in about a month's time. We are meeting the AIFF president soon.” From the looks of it, it looks unlikely that the negotiations with the AIFF were positive.

Pune FC, on the other hand, have not signed a single player this season and the club has refused to comment on any speculation.

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