Delhi-based club Sudeva FC and Sreenidhi FC of Visakhapatnam have been granted entry to be part of the forthcoming seasons of I-league, the All India Football Federation announced on Wednesday.
Amongst the three prospective clubs — Sudeva (Delhi), Sreenidhi (Visakhapatnam), and Ryntih (Shillong) – for participation, members of the bid comittee of AIFF granted playing rights to Sudeva in the Hero I-League 2020-21 season.
The Committee also granted playing rights to Sreenidhi in the Hero I-League from 2021-22 onwards.
League CEO Sunando Dhar hoped that like in the past, the introduction of a team from a new region will rejuvenate the game further.
“We have seen in the past that the inclusion of a team from a new region has acted as a catalyst to develop football in that region. We are confident Sudeva from this season and Sreenidhi from next season would help develop and popularise football pan India in the coming years,” Dhar said.
“Our Club being awarded the playing rights in the I-League is a huge motivation to our efforts to give the sport a new direction in Andhra Pradesh and especially in Vizag,” Mr. K. Abhijit Rao, executive director of Sreenidhi FC, informed Sportstar.
“The biggest task for us will be to develop an ecosystem which should take the sport to a new high. We are looking forward to working in coordination with the AP Football Association and hoping the Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation would identify a stadium for the Club to be its ‘home’ venue,” he said.
“Essentially, playing in the I-League means the under-18 age group players can now work really hard to make it to the next level for they have a target now to chase,” Mr Abhijit said.
“We sincerely thank the AIFF panel and all the officials for awarding these rights,” he added.
Last month, the AIFF had invited bids from prospective team owners from New Delhi, Ranchi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bhopal, Lucknow and Ahmedabad, amongst others.
The previous season of the I-League saw 11 clubs, including AIFF’s developmental outfit Indian Arrows, take part in the competition.
However, champion Mohun Bagan has merged with ATK and will play in the Indian Super League (ISL) next season.
(With inputs from PTI)