(Last Updated On: January 6, 2016)

MUMBAI: Mumbai city football aficionados received a jolt in the New Year when they heard of news that their champion club Mahindra United, the Federation Cup champs, was to shift base to Kolkata following the blatant care-to-hoots attitude of the Western India Football Association (WIFA).

The news appeared on a soccer website and was also flashed by news agencies, quoting Indian Football Association (IFA) secretary Subrata Dutta confirming the IFA had officially invited Mahindra to switch over from the WIFA to a more competitive and football friendly state like Bengal.

“I am clueless. I have no idea where this rumour emanated from. We have not received any invite from the IFA nor are we contemplating any shift at the moment,” said Alan Durante, president of the club. “I will be able to make a formal comment only after receiving and reading the contents of the message.”

When told it would be a good move as the WIFA was only interested in making money on Cooperage and feeding off the funds, Durante said he had no comments to offer.

Subrata Dutta, the IFA secretary when contacted in Kolkata, confirmed the news. “We have formally invited Mahindra United to get affiliated to the IFA. We have better grounds, better facilities and support our teams well,” said Dutta.

Elaborating on the support to IFA clubs, Dutta said each affiliated IFA club, gets a Rs. 50,000 grant each year apart from Rs. 1 lakh each to do up their ground. That apart, each team gets Rs. 250 for snacks per match in the local league and Rs. 2,400 for a win, the winning purse in the Elite league is Rs. 3 lakhs (MDFA’s is Rs. 50,000). And, if the team represents the country in international club tournaments, the team gets a bonus of anywhere between Rs. 1 and 3 lakhs,” informed Dutta.

“We would be happy to induct them this year itself and they can play their NFL home matches here in Kolkata itself,” said Dutta.

Dutta said he would be even more happy if Air-India too showed interest in playing in Kolkata. “They are a good team that plays entertaining football. Both teams can build a strong supporter base here. There is room for them even though the old teams East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting have a huge supporter base here. People in Kolkata love teams that play good football. So they can automatically win over fans,” pointed out Dutta.



By Anupama

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