Thirteen players who had joined the IMG-Reliance bandwagon last season aren’t part of the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League’s (ISL) central pool.
The thirteen players are Surkumar Singh, James Singh, Vijeeth Shetty, Bisheshwor Singh, Chitra Sngh, Tomba Singh, Gauranga Biswas, Arindam Ghosh, Abhishek Yadav, Bijendra Rai, Ong Lepcha, Zenith Mashangva and Sukhwinder Singh.
While in some cases, the players weren’t offered a contract while a few didn’t wish to take a pay cut to sign an extension with IMG-Reliance.
Amongst those miffed at not being offered a renewal is Sukhwinder who stated that the tournament organizers backed out from their earlier promise.
“They forgot their old friends. Last year, when nobody believed them, we were the first ones to take the step (to join them). I thought that this is something good happening for Indian football, so I should join. I had a good offer from Pune FC that I refused (last year) to join the new league,” Sukhwinder elucidated to Goal.
“After the tournament got postponed last year, they promised us that the deal will be extended for this year as well. They renewed the deal of a few players. Until the end of last month, they promised us the same. Suddenly the guy whom I was talking to (from IMG-Reliance) informed that the signing of domestic players has been completed and we will not be handed a new contract,” he further added.
Amongst the 13 players mentioned above, only two, namely Gauranga and Bijendra have so far managed to secure a contract in Kolkata but not for clubs plying in the I-League.
“I didn’t join any club (earlier in the transfer window) because not every team was loaning players to the newly proposed league. Now, almost every team has done the signings and I am here not playing for two consecutive seasons.
“As you know, if an Indian player stays out of action for two years, no club takes him anymore. We are professional footballers in India and the money that we make in this 10-to-15 playing years is all we save for our life. Now, it seems my career is almost over,” he mentioned.
IMG-Reliance officials were unavailable for a comment. The cash-rich ISL is expected to start in September this year.