Kerala team inducted into I-League

File Photo : All India Football Federation
IANS|20-Sep-2017 23:02

New Delhi, Sep 20 : The I-League will see a new team in the upcoming season with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) approving the bid of Kochi-based Sree Gokulam Group.

"The AIFF bid evaluation committee met at the AIFF headquarters in New Delhi today to evaluate the bids submitted after the tendering process was initiated on August 18, 2017," the AIFF said in a statement on Wednesday.

"From the bids submitted, the bid evaluation committee decided to award Sree Gokulam Group the right to field their team in Hero I-League season 2017-18 onward," the statement added.

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The newly-inducted team will be playing their home matches out of Calicut, Kerala. With this new addition the number of teams in the I-League has increased to nine.

The I-League had nine teams in the 2016-17 season. But former champions Bengaluru FC decided to opt out and join the Indian Super League (ISL) after the end of last season.

This will be the first team from Kerala in the top tier of Indian football since FC Kochin was relegated from the National Football League -- later renamed as the I-League -- in 2002.

"It gives me great pleasure to welcome a new Kerala team from Sree Gokulam Group to the Hero I-League from the 2017-18 season," AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das said.

"I hope the club would be able to ignite the passion of Kerala football in Calicut where they will be playing from," he added.

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I-League CEO Sunando Dhar was also happy with the inclusion. 

"We would like to congratulate Sree Gokulam Group on winning the bid. It has been our endeavour to have corporate teams come into the Hero I-League and the team from Kerala will open a new market for the league," he said.

"It will be beneficial to both the Hero I-League as well as Indian football. And I'm sure the passionate football fans of Kerala will be delighted to have a team of their own," Dhar added.