NEW DELHI: Kerala club Gokulam FC has been handed a direct entry into the I-league by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). The AIFF bid evaluation committee met in the capital Wednesday to scrutinise the documents of Malappuram based Sree Gokulam Group and Bengaluru's Ozone FC.
“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 stated.
Gokulam FC, semi-finalists in the Kerala Premier League, met all criteria mentioned in the bid document, including the financial part wherein the club has to provide a bank guarantee of Rs1 billion. Gokulam FC, launched earlier in 2017, play their home games from Manjeri but have been asked to switch to Kozhikode as their home base.
Das added, “I hope the club would be able to ignite the passion of Kerala football in Calicut (Kozhikode) where they will be playing from.”
I-League CEO Sunando Dhar also sounded ‘happy’ with the inclusion. “We would like to congratulate Sree Gokulam Group on winning the bid. It has been our endeavor to have corporate teams come into the Hero I-League and the team from Kerala will open a new market for the league.”
“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.
The 2017-18 edition of the I-League is scheduled to start in November this year, with the nation’s top (in name only) division is expected to have nine teams competing.
Gokulam FC, promoted by film producer and distributor Gokulam Gopalan, will be the first team from Kerala to play in the I-League since the relegation of Chirag United Kerala after the 2011-12 season.