One in and one out. That is seemingly what’s occurring in the Indian Super League (ISL) as the teams prepare for the forthcoming big kick-off on October 20.
The one in, as mentioned, is Hyderabad FC — and, sadly for its supporters, players, committee members and management team, the one out is FC Pune City. The development ahead of what will be the sixth ISL campaign comes as little surprise to keen observers of the game in India.
It is no secret that FC Pune City have had issues with keeping their finances on track and this even led to players and staff failing to be paid wages at various points throughout the season. Previous seasons have seen similar problems emerge and it has come to the point that the powers that be can no longer sustain the club using the current business model.
We understand that the Wadhawan Group, who own FC Pune City, are winding up the club. What hasn’t helped matters is that the outfit were looking at a ban for two transfer windows on player recruitment. This ruling was handed down after the club was found guilty of “unethically tapping” midfield ace Nestor Gordillo from Chennai City. Will they rise again like a phoenix from the flames? Who can tell.
What we do know, though, is that Hyderabad FC are coming in to the fray and doing so under the ownership of Vijay Madduri and Varun Tripuraneni — with pundits suggesting that the Gachibowli Stadium will be home.
That Hyderabad as a city should now be able to proudly be home to a new team is fitting, given that the area has been described as a “strong football culture”. Co-owner Madduri, who is an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, is seen very much as a forward-thinking businessman who can contribute massively to the development of the new club. He has said that he is looking forward to playing a significant role in developing football in the state, reviving its past glory.
“Sports has always been in my DNA and I am extremely happy to have a chance to contribute in this field,”
Meanwhile, Tripuraneni has travelled a more traditional route to land in his present football club ownership role, having previously been Kerala Blasters’ team manager and latterly CEO. He also served as chief operating officer of Chennaiyin FC. And he also enjoyed a stint as the president of the Chennai FA. Ahead of a busy time preparing for the new season, he reaffirmed his view that Hyderabad is a city with a great football culture, adding:
“I look forward to working with key stakeholders and building a strong foundation for the club, which will eventually contribute to the society and do the city proud.”