Although the owners lost significant amount of money, their passion for football will see them rebuild from scratch for the upcoming second division..
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) had to cancel all leagues in the previous season, as the Coronavirus pandemic started to spread across the country.
The second division I-League which saw 17 teams participate was cancelled even before the group stages could be completed.
ARA FC, were topping the charts in group C with 14 points from seven games. But due to the pandemic, they have to start from a clean slate in a format that would be decided by the AIFF.
“We had faced a lot of losses because of the cancellation of the tournament. Everything went in vain. We have been practicing since December and then midway through the tournament, it got stopped. We had to pay salaries, training costs, and incur other expenses as usual. So it was really difficult for us. Therefore, we were sceptical about participating in the tournament,” stated Vikram Patel, owner of ARA FC, to Goal.
It was just a couple of days ago that the team management confirmed to AIFF about their wish to participate after a lot of deliberation. They wanted to give another shot at qualification for I-League as they believe that they have the squad which can make it through.
Syed Shoaib Ahmed and Dieye Hamidou were in fine form as they struck seven and six goals respectively and Patel confirmed that both the players will continue to feature for them.
“We are in talks with all our players including Shoaib and Hamidou. We will try to make new signings as soon as possible and send them fresh contracts as we hope to start training by mid-August. We will field the strongest outfit possible. Because if we qualify (for I-League) we have to carry the same players in I-league at least for the first few matches as the league will start in December and the transfer window will start in January. It might be difficult for us to sign players in the summer transfer window.
“So we are planning accordingly. But while recruiting any more foreign players we will be hiring players who are stuck in India, otherwise, there will be visa and transport problems,” commented the businessman.
Patel hopes that AIFF will help them out with the steep cost of testing the players during the tournament. Additionally, he has urged the federation for extra funds since they have already lost a lot of money in the previous season.
“We are in discussion with AIFF for a certain sum of money as a subsidy that should ideally cover our transportation and hotel costs. Moreover, the Covid-19 testing is also a costly affair. Ideally, they should bear the cost. Otherwise, we have to source it from the insurance that we include in the player’s contract.”
He also assured that there will be strict protocols when the players arrive in Ahmedabad for training.
“We will take full precautions while training. There will be a seven-day isolation period when the players arrive. Then their movements will be restricted. We don’t want one player to go out and get Covid. The whole team will suffer. We have our own residential space, they will be staying there. It will be sanitised regularly.”
The team had good momentum before the pandemic played the spoilsport. The strikers were in a good rhythm and now coach Vivek Nagul will have to ensure that his men have shaken off the pandemic blues once they restart their quest for a spot in the I-League. was in awas in awas in awas in a