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Will go all out to ensure Neroca FC is part of one football league: Manipur CM

IANS  |  Imphal 

Underlining the importance of as a footballing state, its Nongthombam Singh said he will go all out to ensure Neroca FC, currently second in the I-League, is part of the proposed one league that is expected to take shape by the next season.

The country's premier club competition I-League, and the (ISL) have been running simultaneously from this season.

The I-League, which replaced the National League (NFL) in 2007, ran into problems since the emergence of the franchise-based glitzy ISL in 2014.

For the first three seasons, ISL was held separately followed by the but the growing clamour for a single Indian league forced the mandarins of the sport to run both competitions concurrently as a stop-gap arrangement before going into a merger.

"When the two leagues are merged, Neroca should be part of it. There must be one team from I will try to support them come what may," Singh told IANS in an interview.

"We have many clubs in Neroca have done exceedingly well to qualify for the I-League," he said.

Neroca, since being promoted to the after winning the last season, have defied all odds to stake a claim for the title and are now one point behind league leaders FC.

The first Manipur-based club to play the had stitched together an impressive nine-game unbeaten run this season which was brought to an end by Shillong Lajong last month. At present, they have three more games to go and are on 28 points. Minerva have a game in hand and are on 29 points.

The CM, however, expressed reservations that the government cannot back a private club wholeheartedly.

"We will support them as much as we can. Our hands are also tied as we cannot support one private club to a great extent," he said.

Cash-strapped Neroca's problem in taking part in one league is the steep participation fee of Rs 15 crore. Previously, I-League heavyweights East Bengal and Mohun Bagan had also vehemently opposed the participation fee idea and went to the extent of approaching CM who assured full support.

Confederation (AFC) Dato' had said last year that merging the two leagues is the ultimate goal and has to happen soon.

All Football Federation (AIFF) had also reiterated that "all efforts will be made to have one league from next season."

Talking about Manipur football which has over the years given so many top footballers to the national team, men's and women's, the CM urged and AIFF to support their cause in promoting the sport in the state.

"Manipur football has always been up there and we from the government are trying hard to promote the sport here. We want the All Football Federation (AIFF) and to help us in our endeavour," said the 57-year-old, a former national-level

Singh, who is Manipur's first Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) CM, added that his long-term vision of having a here might finally see the light of the day.

"We have a lot of talent here and they need to be groomed. So now I had decided to have a regional academy. I have been proposing this since 2007 to the establishment. But nobody was supporting," he said.

"But these days, I have already met Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Union minister) and the and the project has been revived again. I am planning to, if possible, when the will visit on 15th of March for Science Congress, lay the foundation stone of the "

is slated to inaugurate the Indian Science here.

Neroca's home turf, the Khuman Lampak Main Stadium, does not have floodlights. Asked whether there is any development on that front, Singh said a budget has been allocated for the same and work will start by March-April.

"We have a budget for floodlights. The tender process is now ongoing. We will start work very soon, maybe by March-April. Money is not an issue. It will take one year," he said.

(Debayan Mukherjee can be contacted at dbyn.mukherjee@gmail.com)

--IANS

dm/pur/bg

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, February 11 2018. 16:22 IST
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