By Nikhil Jitendran and Anselm Noronha
In what is a big blow to Goan club Churchill Brothers' football aspirations, four of their stars have jumped ship to join the Indian Super League (ISL) bandwagon and have agreed professional terms with the ISL's organisers, IMG-Reliance.
Denzil Franco, Lenny Rodrigues, Arindam Bhattacharya and Jaison Valles, all of whom were roped into the tournament after mutually agreeing to end their stint with the 2012-13 I-League champions.
Although Anthony Barbosa, also a former Churchill Brothers player who received his release from the club in prior to his switch to the ISL, the above mentioned four had to wait for their NOC (non-objection certificate) from the club to join the upcoming league.
As per the FIFA regulations, if a player hasn't been paid for over three months, he has every right to terminate the contract with the club, and in special circumstances this can also be two months.
It is been understood that the players in question had initially written to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to get a release from the club.
The matter was later amicably resolved by Churchill after the quartet withdrew their complaint to the governing body of football in India.
"We thought since Churchill [Brothers] is not going to be there in the I-League, that we would be nowhere and be missing out on many opportunities. So we decided to quit the club," explained Denzil Franco.
"We have had good fruitful years with Churchill Brothers. We have nothing against the club," he added. "We didn't know where our fate lies [at Churchill Brothers], so it's time to move on and do something for ourselves. So we signed for IMG-Reliance."
Lenny Rodrigues praised Churchill Brothers for showing faith in him and added that it was time to bid adieu to the Goan club.
"It was Churchill Brothers who gave me the platform to showcase my talent, so I was always thinking that it would be good if the club remains (in the I-League). But now I have no option as I have to sustain my own future. As you know, we (footballers) have a short career."
Also echoeing his thoughts was goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya, who said, "We were waiting for quite a few days until we decided to join the ISL (Indian Super League). I spoke to Denzil and Lenny before making my move.
"I have only good memories with Churchill Brothers and whatever I have won I have won at this club. I feel really bad that we are leaving, but I have to look after my own family who is in Kolkata. I always wish Churchill Brothers good luck."
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