The All India Football Federation (AIFF) handed a direct entry into the I-League to Kerala’s Gokulam FC on Wednesday. This was after the AIFF Bid Evaluation Committee met in Delhi to evaluate the documents of Gokulam and Ozone FC.
The club was launched earlier this year by the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan amidst much fanfare and play their home games from Manjeri. However, they have now been asked by the AIFF to shift base to Calicut where they will most probably make the Corporation Stadium their home ground.
The General Secretary of the India FA, Kushal Das welcomed Gokulam with open arms. "It gives me great pleasure to welcome a new Kerala team from Sree Gokulam Group to the I-League from the 2017-18 season. I hope the club would be able to ignite the passion of Kerala football in Calicut where they will be playing from", he commented.
The 2017-18 edition of the I-League is scheduled to start in November this year. Gokulam met all criterion mentioned in the bid document including the financial part wherein the club has to provide a bank guarantee of Rs.100 crore.
"We would like to congratulate Sree Gokulam Group on winning the bid. It has been our endeavor to have corporate teams come into the I-League and the team from Kerala will open a new market for the league," opined I-League CEO Sunando Dhar.
He added, "It will be beneficial to both the Hero I-League as well as Indian football. I amm sure the passionate football fans of Kerala will be delighted to have a team of their own."
The AIFF had earlier invited bids from new clubs in July from various cities, namely Bengaluru, Mumbai, New Delhi, Ranchi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bhopal, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Malappuram and Thiruvananthapuram.
DSK Shivajians have already informed the Indian FA of their decision to pull out of the I-League despite the fact that they have a three-year contract with the federation.
The Arrows project will be revived with the team of youngsters to be fielded from the national capital.
The nation’s top division would have ten teams for the upcoming edition.