Ever since Amit Goenka-owned Mumbai FC were relegated from the 2016-17 season of I-League, there have been doubts about their future. The Yellow Submarines were believed to take a step towards shutting shop, as reported by Goal earlier.
Following the series of events, the supporters of Mumbai FC came up with the initiative of signing a petition, asking the club to reinstate their presence for the upcoming season. The petition was seen being shared by Mumbai FC midfielder Steven Dias on Facebook.
Speaking exclusively to Goal, Henry Menezes, the CEO of Western Indian Football Association (WIFA), commented on the fans' gesture, applauding their efforts. However, Menezes believes the final decision will only come from the owner. ''I think the connection and passion of the fans (with the club) is being seen here. This could make an impact on the club but the ultimate decision lies with the owner of the club. It’s all about authorities. We have witnessed football clubs closing in the recent past but getting out of the I-League and then closing the club is something we have to think about as to why this situation has come up,'' he expressed.
On being questioned if he has been in touch with the club authorities regarding their future, the 53-year-old denied the same. ''I haven’t been in contact with Mumbai FC because there’s nobody to answer. We haven’t received any official letter from Mumbai FC for the club’s closure but looking at the way the things are going on, there’s no clue as to what they (Mumbai FC) are planning,'' he clarified.
Moreover, Menezes added that incidents of a club shutting down or pulling out have happened in the earlier years and reasoned for the same. The Deputy Chairman of AIFF's Technical Committee claims that a club possesses its share of pros and cons based on its nature and that the future is only controlled by its owner.
''These things have happened in the past and I have been a part of it- whether it was Mahindra United or JCT or Dempo SC and others- so the advantage and disadvantages of this entire decision are basically dependent on the system. The corporate entity has a disadvantage as compared to a people’s club. If you look at Vasco from Goa or East Bengal, Mohun Bagan or Mohammedan Sporting who have gone down in the rankings of I-League and have come up, you don’t see closures happening here, they fight back into the mainstream. So it’s eventually one man’s call on the decision to shut down or not,'' he described.
As known, Mumbai FC isn't the first club to head towards dissolution. In the past, other clubs from Maharashtra have shut shop too. In 2010, Mahindra United had disbanded whereas Air India closed down two years later. In 2015, Pune FC and Bharat FC had dispersed and now DSK Shivajians are on the same track as well.
On being asked as to why football clubs from the western state have often taken a step back, he replied, ''There’s no reason as such. It’s a business decision. As I mentioned earlier about the advantages and disadvantages of a corporate and people’s club, we haven’t seen a club shut down because of one particular reason because they were all fan-based clubs where the people are contributing to the growth of the club.''
Henry Menezes was the former general manager of Mumbai FC in their initial years and believes that the condition of football in Maharashtra could improve as years pass by. ''We’ll have to wait and see how the interest grows for another club to come up. Mumbai is a commercial capital and has business interest. As the football evolves, clubs would automatically want to come up,'' he commented.
Lastly, Mr Henry discussed Indian Super League outfits Mumbai City FC and FC Pune City being put under more pressure and responsibility for the upcoming season. Also, he looks forward to the birth of new clubs in the financial capital owing to the nation's progress in football. ''Mumbai City FC and FC Pune City now have a greater responsibility on them because now they will be competing to be a part of the AFC structure. India has two leagues currently but the leagues will merge eventually. In India, football is evolving now. India is hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup and also the national team’s ranking has improved. So, I believe there would be someone would want to come up,'' he concluded.