CHENNAI: The future of the I-League – the country’s top tier football league – was plunged into further doubt when Royal Wahingdoh pulled out of the competition on Saturday.
The Shillong club’s withdrawal comes on the heel of Pune FC and Bharat FC pulling out of this year’s I-League. Wahingdoh, which finished third last year, had been one of the most popular teams in the league thanks to the attacking brand of football that had been advocated by coach Santosh Kashyap. The likes of Jackichand Singh and Seityasen Singh, both of whom came through the club’s academy, have been touted future stars. With the trio pulling out, there are now ten clubs in the upcoming I-League including newly promoted Aizawl FC.
Wahingdoh owner Dominic Tariang told Express that his club was pulling out because of the way the I-League was staged. “There is no clarity to the how the I-League will be organised. People are saying a merger will take happen in one year’s time or two-year’s time. There is no clarity as to when it will happen or how it will happen. We don’t know anything about the financial aspect of it. So we have decided to pull out,” he said.
“The Federation Cup has been scrapped, the IFA Shield has been scrapped, so what are we supposed to play in? It seems only people who can spend money on Indian Super League franchises can play at the national level now,” he added. Unlike Pune FC, Wahingdoh will not be ceasing first team operations. “We have a competitive league in Shillong and will continue to participate in that.”