I-League 2017/18: DSK Shivajians not to be a part of the league anymore
What’s the story?
DSK Shivajians have reportedly opted out of next season's I-League. In the process, they become the third club from Pune after Pune FC and Bharat FC to have opted out of the league in recent years.
According to a report in Goal India, the club has apparently communicated their decision to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) already. In fact, it appears that they had communicated the decision last month.
In case you didn’t know…
DSK Shivajians had made a corporate entry into the top division league in 2015 through a Request for Proposal (RFP) scheme. This scheme offered them immunity from relegation for at least three seasons. Last season they had finished seventh in the I-League while in their first season, they had finished a lowly ninth.
On another note, recently, at the AIFF Awards in June, the club was awarded the Best Home-match organizer of the I-League 2016-17 season award jointly with Bengaluru FC.
The heart of the matter
Despite the poor performance of the club, it wasn’t expected that they would withdraw from the tournament after playing two seasons. After all, they had immunity from relegation and could have well played another season in the top division.
However, this had been coming for some time. The club had not cleared the dues of the players during the course of the last season. There was growing disappointment amongst the players. The academy staff, as well, had gone on strike for not receiving their wages.
The report also added that attempts at contacting Neel Shah, CEO of DSK Shivajians, were futile.
Parallels from history
Previously, Bharat FC, too, had shut shop after a disappointing debut campaign. They had made the cut through direct entry as well but had spent over the top with little success. This, in turn, had led to the management deciding that they would not invest in football anymore.
On the other hand, Pune FC were unclear about the roadmap for Indian football right from the start, The AIFF had started giving more importance to the ISL and running an I-League team meant no revenues. The absence of a concrete blueprint for Indian football going forward and the issue of broadcasting rights together were the primary reasons that compelled the club's owners to pull the plug.
As for the football fans in Pune, things could not get any worse. Now, they do not have any club to root for in the I-League. However, it is unlikely to have a long term effect on them as they do have ISL club FC Pune City to fall back on.