For the first time in five years that any team from north India will feature in I League after JCT Punjab pulled out from the competition in 2011 and also for the first time any I-League club to play eight matches without a sponsor.
After the All India Football Federation has introduced Chandigarh-based football club Minerva Punjab FC into the I League 2017 edition, the club officials are giving their full efforts to find sponsors for the club.
And the club has formed their senior team for the 10th edition of the I-league with players from AIFF Youth Development program and also from the Indian junior teams, but lack of sponsors has meant that the team will play their first eight I-league matches without a sponsor.
As on Thursday during the official team jersey launch, the CEO and owner of the club and a former Indian junior player Ranjeet Bajaj admitted,
“It is tough without getting any sponsors despite finishing second in the second division I League last season. But we wanted to put north India, especially Punjab, back on the national football scene. Hence we scouted junior and Indian players who wanted to represent the region in the I league. Whatever training sessions we had at Sector 17 Football Stadium, we had to pay for them and it has not dented our confidence,”
The Punjab based I-league club Minerva Punjab FC will start their first ever I-league season with an away match against Chennai City FC on Sunday, 8th January 2017.