Churchill Brothers FC will continue being the lone football team from Goa in the I-League after the All India Football Federation (AIFF) Emergency Committee approved the club’s request to be allowed to be part of India’s premier football league.
“The AIFF Emergency Committee has approved Churchill Brothers participation in the I-League,” AIFF vice president Subratta Dutta informed The Navhind Times over the phone.
The AIFF Emergency Committee consists of the president, vice presidents and treasurer of AIFF.
Churchill Brothers FC was relegated last year to the Second Division of the I-League and Real Kashmir was promoted from the Second Division.
The I-League will now comprise of eleven teams.
Churchill Brothers FC is the only team from Goa to play in the I-League after three clubs – Dempo Sports Club, Salgaocar Football Club and Sporting Clube de Goa – opted out of the I-League with there being no clear vision for football in India, four years back.
At that time, Churchill Brothers was not part of the I-League as it had failed the AFC licensing criteria. The club was in a legal battle with AIFF. However, after the withdrawal of the three teams from Goa, AIFF decided to accommodate Churchill Brothers in order to keep Goa’s presence alive at the top level.
Churchill Brothers started badly in the initial half of the first year under coach Alfred Fernandes and matters perked up with the induction of Derrick Perreira. Derrick managed to keep the team reasonably afloat. However, the bulk of players left the club along with Derrick Pereira to FC Goa and Goan FC.
Churchill Brothers started the 2017-18 season with Shevchenko from Ukraine and his contract was terminated after the initial consecutive losses suffered by the team. Joseph Afusi was roped in as Technical Director. Technically, Alfred Fernandes was the team’s coach. Churchill Brothers FC finished ninth, one step ahead of Indian Arrows with 17 points from 18 games in the 2017-18 League. Churchill won five matches and lost eleven.
Despite being relegated, Churchill Brothers patron Churchill Alemao retained the services of Willis Plaza and signed players from Dempo SC, Sporting Clube de Goa and Salgaocar FC for the forthcoming season. Salgaocar FC coach Norbert Gonsalves and assistant coach Mario Soares were also signed by Churchill Brothers.
The team later signed Peter Gigui from Romania as head coach.
Churchill Brothers FC has been utilising the “Financial Assistance to Football Clubs from Goa Scheme” introduced by the government last year. Clubs that meet the requirements of this scheme can avail of financial assistance of up to Rs three crore a year. Churchill Brothers availed of this scheme last year.
“The I-League fixtures will be completed by the end of this month. The process has already started and we expected the I League to start somewhere in October. The details will be out as soon as we streamline the fixtures,” I-League CEO Sunando Dhar told The Navhind Times.