Kolkata: Mohammedan Sporting, one of India's oldest clubs with a rich legacy, today decided to leave the national football scene for this season due to severe financial crisis.
The 123-year-old Maidan-based club was to play in the I-League second division this season which is expected to start in December but it has now decided to pull out of the tournament. The club has also decided to skip the ongoing Durand Cup in Goa.
"We will not play in the I-League and Durand Cup in the
upcoming season," club president Sultan Ahmed told PTI.
Ahmed dismissed reports that the club has been disbanded, saying that it will still play in the local league. "We will make the club ready and develop infrastructure and take part in the (second division) I-league from 2015-16 onwards," he said.
"We will also participate in next season's Calcutta Football League Premier Division and also the IFA Shield besides taking part in invitational tournaments," he added.
Asked whether his club was reeling under acute financial crisis in the wake of the chit fund scam that has hit the state, Ahmed said, "It's been there for a long time not only for us but for many football clubs in India. But we have managed so far."
Another club official said it was reportedly running losses to the tune of Rs 1.5 to 2 crore. "Unless our sponsors don't provide us necessary financial
support, it's not possible for us to go and play the Durand Cup. We will play the tournament only if they help us.
"Now because of the AIFF rules, we cannot play the Federation Cup too," he said referring to their I-League relegation last season that bars the club from participating in the Federation Cup.
Mohammedan Sporting has been reeling under financial problems for some time. Its failure to meet financial obligations had caused displeasure among the playing and coaching staff.
On top of that, the club was barred in May from competing in the I-League first division after failing to meet the AIFF's club licensing criteria.
Under the AIFF's Club Licensing Regulations, the teams are expected to meet several legal, administrative, sporting, infrastructure and financial criteria.
Licensing is an annual process where all clubs, eligible to compete based on sporting merit, need to have a license under the AIFF's Indian Club Licensing system.