FC Pune City seek sponsors to stay afloat in Indian Super League | football
File photo of players of North East United FC (in red) and FC Pune City in action.(PTI)
FC Pune City’s future in the Indian Super League is uncertain given the football club’s financial state of affairs. Reports suggesting the club has released its overseas and Indian players due to monetary issues are being denied.
“None of the players have been released. We are only looking to give fringe and youth players a chance in the Super Cup. Fifteen players already have contracts for next season,” Gaurav Modwell, CEO, FC Pune City. Super Club pits ISL clubs against I-League clubs in a knockout format
Goal.com reported that a club official communicated to the players and staff on Sunday, the team management’s decision to let the players go.
Modwell admitted that the “club is in financial difficulty and facing tough liquidity situations”, but remained confident that FCPC “will still be there in the ISL next year – 100 per cent”.
“The Wadhawan Group (approximately holding an 85-90 per cent stake) is not looking to sell. Instead, the club is looking for investors to raise funds by issuing new shares. Italian football club Fiorentina and actor Arjun Kapoor are the other two minority stakeholders,” Modwell explained.
A top source in IMG-Reliance, the main organisers of the ISL, said Pune were indeed gripped by financial problems after DHFL (Dewan Housing Financial Corporation Limited), FCPC’s sponsors, saw shares plummeting after rating agency ICRA punished the Wadhwan Group for its inability to generate fresh business. DHFL is facing liquidity crisis and that’s not good news for FCPC, said an IMG official in know of things.
DHFL has also withdrawn as an associate sponsor of Mumbai Indians. The company was associated with the IPL champions for 11 years. “For any company to pull out from a spectacle called IPL and invest in football doesn’t make business sense. FCPC can be bailed out only if some investor is keen,” said the IMG official.
Pune FC, Bharat FC and DSK Shivajians, three clubs from Pune which played in the I-League, have wrapped up their first teams in the past. Among the reasons cited was lack of marketability of India’s apex competition. But should FC Pune City go that way it would be a first in five seasons of the ISL.
FC Pune City have had a below-par season finishing at the seventh position in the league with 22 points. They may have ended on a high with a competitive 2-1 victory over cross-state rivals Mumbai City FC, hinting at a revival under their new coach Phil Brown, however, overall, this ISL has been one of turmoil.
The Maratha Stallions began their campaign losing their first three games which was enough to decide the fate of coach Miguel Angel Portugal as he was sacked, leaving assistant coach Pradhyum Reddy in charge of first-team affairs on an interim basis, until Brown arrived.
By picking up 11 points from his six games at the helm, Brown oversaw a fruitful couple of months and made the best of the players he had at his disposal. Qualifying for the playoffs was, however, always going to be a long shot for the British coach as he saw his team fall short of fourth place by seven points.
Delay in wages
On reports of payments to players and staff not being made, Modwell said, “The maximum delay has been 20 days and players have been intimated about it, on the date their salary was due. The club paid salaries 10 days earlier the following month to compensate for the delays and all players have now been paid in full.”
On the future of FCPC given the current turmoil Modwell said, “There is a possibility of the club being branded under a different name and the location could move from Pune to another city, depending on how things pan out, however, there are no considerations of merging with Mumbai City FC.”
Offering a broader view on the situation, Modwell said, “FCPC has among the lowest wage bills in the ISL. ISL clubs have changed ownership four times in the past, so it is not something that causes turmoil.”
In terms of the FCPC situation having a negative impact on the ISL and football in the country Modwell believes, “People are continuing to invest in the game despite making heavy losses. They believe it will help build a platform for the future success.”
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an FCPC player said that in the dressing room belief is that club ownership is expected to change.
“The worry is for the academies. If the first team shuts, will the academies close as well?” the players are asking.
Mar 04, 2019 20:29 IST
FC Pune City
Indian Super League