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Wring out the old, ring in the new: FC Pune City [OUT], Hyderabad FC [IN]

According to sources in the media, ISL officials and as is widely believed, the newly established Hyderabad FC will replace FC Pune City in the Indian Super League.

There were rumours abound for a while now that Pune City was in severe financial distress and the owners, the Wadhawan Group, were unwilling to invest any further in the club. The group were actively looking for an investor in Pune, but no viable takers were found.

Iain Hume and Ashique Kuruniyan had written letters to the AIFF seeking intervention for non-payment of dues and there were reports that this issue extended across the club. Eventually, the club released a statement on social media indicating that the dues will be taken care of in due course of time.

Pune seems to have the worst luck with football clubs. FC Pune City is the fourth high profile club to shut down; Pune FC, DSK Shivajians and Bharat FC were all started with great ambition, but then fell by the wayside over the last decade.

The Orange Army or the FC Pune City supporters club were fairly in voice among ISL supporters, but the fledgling fan base and footballing culture in the city of Pune has suffered a body blow with the Pune City “franchise” moving town.

Or as the purists would say “shit has hit the fan.”

However, the Orange Army has indicated they will continue to support local football in the city of Pune.

A GAME OF TWO HALVES

What is Pune’s loss will turn out to be a win for the newly-minted Hyderabad FC. At the obvious risk of sounding cliched – In the game of “franchises,” you either win or…you skip town.

The Telengana businessman Vijay Madduri and the former CEO of Kerala Blasters Varun Tripuraneni have taken over FC Pune City operations and the rebranding to Hyderabad FC is underway.

Hyderabad FC have limited ambitions going into the fast-approaching ISL 2019-20 season. They sold the talented winger Ashique Kuruniyan to Bengaluru FC for an undisclosed sum reported to be around 70 lakhs. The club also will not be eligible to play in AFC competitions this season.

Ashique is among the more talented players in the country, but we are looking at the club from a long-term perspective and from that point of view, we knew that we would build a squad which would give us results over a period of time. 

We were prepared to get a few players and miss out on others.

Varun Tripuraneni, Co-owner, Hyderabad FC

The club will register itself as a new franchise and as such will not have to deal with the fall out from FC Pune City’s transfer ban for illegally approaching Chennai City FC player Nestor Gordillo.

Additionally, most of the players contracted to FC Pune City will be offered fresh contracts under the Hyderabad franchise. The home games will be played at the Gachibowli Stadium and Hyderabad FC will replace FC Pune City on the ISL calendar which was released a few days go.

Although football hasn’t seen many takers in Hyderabad in the last few decades, the city boasts a rich history with the legendary football coach Syed Abdul Rahim its biggest export. The Hyderabad City Police team dominated domestic football in the 50s and the 1956 Indian Olympic Team had as many as eight players from Hyderabad.

Hyderabad FC will be the first club from the city to play in the top-tier leagues of Indian football. The “other club” Fateh Hyderabad AFC was founded in 2015 and competes primarily in the 2nd Division League.

Hyderabad FC will start their 2019-20 Indian Super League game away against two-time champions ATK on 25th October 2019. Former Hull City manager Phil Brown who joined FC Pune City towards the fag end of last season is on a two-year contract and is widely expected to manage the new club on the block.

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