Bhutia eyes new league to fund cash-strapped club

Kolkata, Aug. 13 -- For Bhaichung Bhutia, the league being planned by the commercial partners of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is an opportunity to raise funds for his cash-strapped club United Sikkim FC. Meeting on the cards

Bhutia will meet representatives of IMG-Reliance in Mumbai on Tuesday, and speaking to HT from New Delhi on Monday evening, he said: "Not having played or trained for long, I haven't yet decided whether to join as a player or an advisor or be a player-advisor. But about this I am sure; a large portion of what I earn will be used to run United Sikkim. It'll help pay my players."

Bhutia was in New Delhi to apply for a visa to England where he could be a guest commentator for the opening weekend of the English Premier League, which begins on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Bhutia will meet the players who have been training under former East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan at the Cooperage from August 5.

United Sikkim, a team Bhutia co-owns, couldn't survive their first season in the top tier of the I-League in 2012-13. As they ready for this season, Bhutia said getting funds is proving an uphill task.

Uphill task

"When I-League champions Churchill Brothers don't have a sponsor, when United SC, who finished fourth last season, are desperately searching for a sponsor, when the I-League itself doesn't have a sponsor, what chance does United Sikkim have," he asked.

"Take their 50% corporate ownership away and despite the legion of fans, even Mohun Bagan and East Bengal would struggle to find a backer. And it doesn't help that Sikkim doesn't have a major corporate.

"Therefore, if I am associated with the new league, it will be because of an obligation to United Sikkim," Bhutia said.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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