In yet another blow to Indian football, All India Football Federation was on Thursday forced to disband its developmental outfit Pailan Arrows due to lack of financial commitment from its sponsors.
"The sponsors (Pailan Group) are still yet to make any financial commitment. The infrastructure (at Pailan in the outskirts of the city) is in a bad shape... We have no option but to pull out the team. So, there will be 14 teams in the I-League 2013-14," AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told PTI.
Das, however, added that the future of the 20-odd contracted players would be secured as the AIFF would continue to pay their salaries.
"They are contracted with the AIFF and would continue to get salaries. Some of them would play for I-League clubs while others will play for India Under-23 side," Das said.
Formed in 2010 as the Indian Arrows, with the main goal of nurturing young talents in view of 2018 World Cup, the team had appeared in three seasons of the I-League with mixed results.
"As it is, this would have been the last year of the team," Das said.
The decision was taken at an AIFF meeting today after an acute financial crisis at the Pailan Group.
"Such was the condition that the players were not offered food and had to manage on their own a few days back," an AIFF insider claimed.
After the Saradha Group went bust early this year, some city-based clubs have been experiencing financial crisis with United Sports Club facing a similar dilemma after its sponsors Prayag Group pulled out.
When contacted, Pailan Group chairman Apurba Saha told PTI, "I'm out of town, I have no details as of now... we will keep you informed."
In the build-up to the season, speculation was rife that the AIFF would disband the side with the Pailan Group not settling all its financial dues.
But Saha had earlier said that they have sorted out the differences with the AIFF amicably.
"Pailan Group has settled all financial dues with the AIFF and both parties are now ready to concentrate on the upcoming I-League season with a deep sense of association as before," he had said.