Mumbai FC were the last representative of the metropolitan in the Indian top flight.
As reported by the Times of India, USports owned by Ronnie Screwvala have requested the All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) for entry into the top division of Indian football from Mumbai. U Mumba FC, owned by USports, wishes to participate in the I-League next season and reports can further confirm that they could get the nod.
The U Mumba team, famed for all the success they have acclaimed in the field of kabaddi, have decided to invest in multiple other sports, of which football is one. The team already plays in the Mumbai District Football Association’s Elite Division and finished in the top half of the league last campaign, becoming eligible for participation in the 2nd Division I-League next season.
However, the team wishes to play in the top division and has made their wishes known to the apex body. Once they officially get the confirmation, they would be the first team to play in the top division I-League from Mumbai since Mumbai FC, who were relegated and subsequently shut down in 2017.
Mumbai were relegated in 2017 and consequently decided to shut down rather than playing the second division. USports CEO Supratik Sen confirmed their interest in playing the I-League from Mumbai.
“We feel that football in Mumbai has tremendous potential and it’s imperative that we have a team in the I-League. Just when fans started coming to the stadium in large numbers for the I-League games, Mumbai FC got relegated and the city didn’t have a team in the league anymore,” Sen said.
Sunando Dhar, CEO of I-League, has confirmed that AIFF would float a tender for corporate teams to enter and if U Mumba can fulfil all the criteria, they could well get direct entry.
“Yes, we have received their application that they are interested in putting a team in the I-League. They will have to follow the bid process. We’re looking for a team from a city which doesn’t have a team already. Mumbai doesn’t and we would love to have a team from there,” Dhar said TOI.
The trials for the team are set to happen from June 15-25. Sen wants a team that has its roots from Mumbai. He henceforth wishes to have 25 players from Mumbai in the squad.
On this he said, “We want this to be a total Mumbai team and that’s why out of our squad of 35, we want 25 players from Mumbai. We will sign five players from elsewhere of the country and will have five foreigners.”
Former India captain Steven Dias has been signed as an assistant coach for the side. The move is seen as an approach that would push for more Indian coaches at the top level of the games in India. Sen also confirmed that the team’s home games would be played in Cooperage Ground, the former home for Mumbai FC.