Will there be club from Maharashtra for the next year’s I-league?

With Mumbai FC relegated and DSK Shivajians in financial turmoil, a lot is riding on Kenkre FC to ensure I-league would not miss a club from Maharashtra in top flight football next year



Mumbai FC’s relegation to the second tier of the domestic league was confirmed following the Goan club Churchill Brothers’ resounding 6-1 win over new entrant Chennai City FC.

The win took the Goans’ points tally to 20 which meant Mumbai FC, who are on 13 points after a 1-1 draw against Lajong, with a game in hand, will be shown the exit door, even if they collect the maximum available points, which will take their tally onto 16 points with DSK, Minerva and Chennai city being immune to relegation. This is the first time, Mumbai FC would be relegated since their entry to the top tier back in 2007

DSK Shivajians, the other team from Maharashtra, are in a bit of turmoil themselves. Based on reports from Pune press, the D S Kulkarni conglomerate is allegedly believed to be in a financial instability. Not only had they dismissed important support staff from the Liverpool partner academy, but a dearth of arrears had yet to be handed out to the coaching staff, the players and even the support staff since the beginning of the league in January. In fact, so dire was the situation that the players and academy staff actually resorted to going on strike for their salaries in the mid march.

With Shivajians survival for next season in doubt, Kenkre FC, who are currently plying their trade in the second division finals, could be the only side from Maharashtra in top flight football provided they finish at the top.

Also Read: Indian colts handed tough draws for 2018 U-16 and U-19 AFC Championship qualifiers

Currently occupying the third position after 4 games with 1 win, 2 draws and 1 loss, Kenkre can still pull off the miracle. A loss to table topper Neroca FC and draws against Delhi United and Lonestar Kashmir had hurt Kenkre’s start to the finals campaign. But the recent 2-0 win against second placed Southern Samity could well be the much-needed driving force for the remaining fixture with 6 games yet to go.

While there is no denial that Maharashtra has been a cricket dominant state, in recent year’s football too had begun to find its feet. Mumbai FC, Pune FC earlier and now DSK Shivajians in I league and Mumbai City FC and Pune City FC from ISL have played an important part in this growth. While the ISL has just been a 3 month affair, I-league clubs like Mumbai FC and DSK play for a longer duration and even though they have limited fans they are a loyal bunch.

Before ISL, Mumbai FC was the side that brought the cities football enthusiast together. A look at Mumbai’s yellow brigade will tell you that these fans are no less passionate about the club. While Kenkre have been a source for footballers within the Mumbai circuit, It’s now time that the club carry the expectation of the entire Mumbai football, not just for fans but for the overall development of the game around these regions.

Also Read: Mumbai Strikers, RBI romp to easy wins

It’s not impossible to achieve for a young and comparatively small club to achieve its mark at the top flight, Aizawl FC is a prime example of that, the north-eastern club that was almost relegated last year has turned the tables this year with their performances now that they have almost pocketed the I league trophy.

With the ISL-I league merger yet not guaranteed, Mumbai FC at present situation will find itself out in the second division and with that expectation from the fans would be high on Kenkre FC, if top flight football has to return next year at cooperage.

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