ISL: Pune City FC's loss is Hyderabad's gain

Chennai: The beleaguered Pune City FC which was struggling to pay salaries to players and support staff during the fifth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) has found a new home.

The club, formerly owned by the Rajesh Wadhawan Group, has been rebranded Hyderabad FC with Andhra-born Varun Tripuraneni as its new owner. Varun is no stranger to the ISL having already worked with teams such as Kerala Blasters and Chennaiyin FC.  He also owned a team (Chennai United) in Chennai’s senior division league. Former English footballer Philip Brown will remain head coach.

Hyderabad FC begin their campaign in the sixth edition of the ISL in October. Telangana Football Association confirmed that ISL matches will be held at the Gachibowli Stadium.

Hyderabad had an active football scene in the ’50s and ’60s before it gradually lost its glory, mainly because of infighting in the Association. The Indian team that competed in the 1956 Olympics had as many as eight Hyderabadis, underlining the city’s storied past.

Hyderabad’s Victor Amalraj, former Indian football captain, said it’s great news for the city's football fraternity.

“I am so happy that the city will have a team in the top division of the country. This will also inspire a lot of youngsters to take up the sport, which has been languishing after the past glory days when the city used to host top-level national competitions like the Nizam Gold Cup,” he said.

Amalraj, who has played for all the three top clubs in Kolkata — Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting — said local players will benefit from rubbing shoulders with foreign players.

“With the influx of foreign players and coaches, the standard of football will improve manifold. We couldn't have asked for a better deal right now,” Amalraj added.

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