Kalyani Group joins I-League with Bharat FC

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Pune | Published: November 24, 2014 12:55:05 AM

The Kalyani Group made its debut in the I-League of the All India Football Federation...

The Kalyani Group made its debut in the I-League of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and launched its club Bharat FC and its club crest. Bharat FC will enter the I-League starting January 2015. This is the second I-League team in Pune along with Piramal Group’s Pune Football Club.

The I-League is on way to getting more professionalised and competitive, especially with the way the glitzy Indian Super League tournament has taken off. A rejuvenation of the I-League is on the cards with more corporates with resources joining in. Kalyani Group’s bid for owning an I-League team from Pune was accepted by the AIFF in September 2014 and the club has taken off in one-and-a-half month, Amit Kalyani, ED, Kalyani Group, and owner of the Bharat FC, said.

The Bharat FC team will be headquartered in Pune.

The Kalyanis’ sports venture is through an unlisted company of the group and has committed to invest heavily in football development both infrastructural as well as grassroot support to player development. A stadium of their own and a football academy are among the commitments.

The FIFA world club had a viewership of 400 million people in India and it was a no brainer that if you wanted to get into sports it had to be football, Kalyanis said. The I-League is a FIFA-sanctioned league with games played throughout the year and allowed a lot of connect with the people so they chose to be in the I-League, Kalyani said.

Kalyani is inspired by the performance of the Bengaluru FC, which won the championship on debut. Bharat FC would focus on all aspects of football and going forward we will look at further enhancing the youth development and grass root programmes, Kalyani said at the unveiling the of Club logo and club crest in Pune on Sunday.

Kunal Agarwal, director, Bharat FC, said the only sport that can overtake cricket in India is football. The chance to construct an ultra-professional football club, one able to hold its own with the best in Asia was the clinching factor behind him coming on board, Agarwal said. A well-managed, professional club can offer a lot of benefits for society as a whole apart from serving as a catalyst for the growth of the standard of football in India, Agarwal said.

For now Bharat FC will be playing its home games at Balewadi stadium in Pune. It would also pick up some of the players from the ongoing Indian Super League after their season ends on December 20.

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