I-League: How newly-promoted teams have performed

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Over the years, some of the newly-promoted clubs have taken the I-League by storm. While there have been disappointing instances of things not working out for new entrants, teams like NEROCA, Real Kashmir and Aizawl have proved that newbies are not pushovers. 

With 2019-20 I-League second division set to resume later this year, Goal takes a look at how the second division champions from previous season have performed in a league that was once Indian football's top-flight. 

  1. Mumbai FC vs Pune FC, I-League
    Mumbai FC

    2008-09: Mumbai, Mohammedan, Chirag United, Vasco

    Following the inaugural season of I-League, four teams were promoted to the then top division. Mumbai and Chirag United finished seventh and eighth respectively in an I-League which had been expanded to 12 teams.  Mohammedan and Vasco suffered the drop. 

  2. Nima Tamang, Douhou Pierre, United Sikkim vs Pune FC, I-League

    2009-10: Salgaocar, Viva Kerala, Lajong, Pune

    In a campaign wherein Dempo stormed to an 11 point lead and a title victory over second-placed Churchill Brothers, Pune pulled off a third-place finish. Salgaocar finished sixth, Viva Kerala ended the season at tenth and Lajong were relegated. 
  3. Shillong Lajong vs ONGC:I-League
    Shillong Lajong FC

    2010-11: ONGC, HAL

    Salgaocar became champions in their second season in I-League after gaining promotion. ONGC and HAL, the newly promoted teams, however, finished 14th and 12th respectively with the former getting relegated. 
  4. Kim Seng-Yong Royal Wahingdoh Bengaluru FC I-League
    Bengaluru FC

    2011-12: Lajong, Sporting Goa

    Dempo had another blistering season with Ranti Martins scoring 32 goals and becoming the top scorer. The two promoted clubs managed to avoid relegation and stay alive in the top flight. Sporting Goa and Lajong finished eighth and tenth respectively. 
  5. Kim Seng-Yong Royal Wahingdoh Bengaluru FC I-League
    Bengaluru FC

    2012-13: United Sikkim and ONGC

    It was a forgettable campaign for both the new entrants for two different reasons.

    United Sikkim finished at the bottom of the table with just two wins to show for and were relegated. ONGC meanwhile were excluded from the I-League because they were not a private entity and thus, failed to meet an AFC guideline. 

  6. Kim Seng-Yong Royal Wahingdoh Bengaluru FC I-League
    Bengaluru FC

    2013-14: Rangdajied United and Mohammedan

    As Bengaluru FC secured the title after a direct entry, the bottom four spots were occupied, in order, by United SC, Rangdajied United, Churchill Brothers and Mohammedan. 

    While Mohammedan suffered the drop, the three others were barred from I-League due to a failure to meet AFC's licensing criteria. 

  7. Kim Seng-Yong Royal Wahingdoh Bengaluru FC I-League
    Bengaluru FC

    2014-15: Royal Wahingdoh

    Royal Wahingdoh, a Shillong-based club was the only new entrant for the 2014-15 season of I-League and they did really well to secure a third-place finish behind champions Mohun Bagan and runners-up Bengaluru FC. Kerala Blasters winger Seityasen Singh and Jamshedpur's Jackichand Singh were the club's top-performing Indian players during the season under Satosh Kashyap.
  8. Kim Seng-Yong Royal Wahingdoh Bengaluru FC I-League
    Bengaluru FC

    2015-16: Aizawl FC

    Aizawl, who scripted a fairytale league victory in the 2016-17 season, were the newly-promoted team in the 2015-16 season. They finished one point better off bottom-placed DSK Shivajians but neither team suffered the drop. 

    Aizawl were relegated because DSK had immunity but were later reinstated.

    Sporting Goa and Salgaocar decided to withdraw from the league due to restructuring of the domestic league system in India. The two clubs had issued a joint statement which read,

    "Over the past few weeks, Salgaocar Football Club and Sporting Clube de Goa have had several rounds of discussions and have deliberated the impact that the May 17th proposal will have on the state of the sport. It is clear that the proposal is highly discriminatory, goes against sporting merit, is unworkable for I-League clubs and hampers Goa, which is the best-represented state in the I-League, the most.

    “Therefore, rather than waiting for another year to face the inevitable, Salgaocar Football Club and Sporting Clube de Goa have decided to take the painful decision to withdraw from the forthcoming edition of the I-League.”

  9. Kim Seng-Yong Royal Wahingdoh Bengaluru FC I-League
    Bengaluru FC

    2016-17: Dempo

    The I-League gained a new champion and lost a veteran after the 2015-16 season. Aizawl clinched the title but prestigious Goan club Dempo, who had won the second division and gained promotion, declared that they will not play in the then top division as an act of protest against the AIFF's roadmap for Indian football. 
  10. Saran Singh NEROCA FC Shillong Lajong I-League 2018-19 01042019

    2017-18: NEROCA

    The 2017-18 campaign had two new clubs finishing in the top two spots above Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. Minerva Punjab, one of the corporate entries into the I-League, won the title and the newly-promoted NEROCA FC performed really well to secure the runners-up spot. 

  11. Real Kashmir Indian Arrows I-League 2018-19

    2018-19: Real Kashmir

    Another one of the corporate entries, Chennai City, clinched the title but the newly-promoted team from Srinagar did not disappoint. They finished third behind the champions and second-placed East Bengal. 
  12. Indian Arrows TRAU I-League 2019-20

    2019-20: TRAU

    Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU) put in a good shift last season as a newly-promoted club and finished sixth in a league campaign that was affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Only a point separated TRAU from second-placed East Bengal.