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Wahingdoh pull out of I-League

Shillong: The embattled I-League endured a further setback as Shillong-based Royal Wahingdoh Football Club (RWFC), which made a grand debut in the last season finishing third in India’s top-flight competition, on Saturday decided to pull out from the next season.
With this decision, Wahingdoh became the third side to pull out of the top division tournament after Pune FC and Bharat FC.
Wahingdoh played in the I-League for the first time last season and finished third under coach Santosh Kashyap.
According to a statement, Wahingdoh cited a lack of clarity for a proper roadmap for the I-league and its teams and the financial impracticality thereof has been the major factor for pulling out of the tournament.
“It has been a tough call for a passionate club like us to walk away from the most prestigious football league in the country. However, the decision is one of practicality and in alignment of our commitment to continuously promote the sport amongst the youth in the best manner possible,” the statement said.
Noting that its core vision has been to promote football across the region as well as the country and going forward, the RWFC said it will concentrate on Youth Development Programme that has already witnessed strong representation in the national squad.
“The RWFC has announced its decision to follow its core vision of Youth Development and will focus on its existing programme and play in the state league for the upcoming season  of the Indian Football League,” the club added.
“RWFC have always strived to provide a platform for talented footballers to develop themselves into potential national team players through huge investments of time, money and resources,” the statement added.
“In the current scenario, we feel that it would be more prudent to utilize the funds that are required to play in the I-League for initiatives that would help promote our vision.”
However, Wahingdoh said that it will continue to promote the same brand of exciting and entertaining football that helped them develop home grown players to win the 2nd division and finish in top-3 in the I-League debut.
“RWFC will continue to ply its trade in the Shillong Premier League, U-18 I-League, U-15 I-League and other regional and national tournaments,” the statement said.
Wahingdoh’s home ground Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium didn’t fulfil the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) criteria but they were allowed to compete after being granted a national license in October by the Club Licensing Committee of the I-League.
Out of the 11 teams who competed in the I-League last season, only eight teams remain with the pulling out of Pune FC, Bharat FC and Wahingdoh. With new entrants DSK-Shivajians, the I-League 2015-16 could be competed among nine clubs.
Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Mumbai FC, Bengaluru FC, Aizawl FC, Shillong Lajong, Sporting Clube de Goa, and Salgaocar FC are the other clubs who will participate in the league.
The 2015-16 I-League is expected in start in January next year after the end of the ongoing Indian Super League on December 20. (With inputs from IANS & PTI, New Delhi)

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