End of the road for JCT

End of the road for JCT

In a shocking move, Phagwara firm disbands team

The development was not a surprising one as there had been speculations that the club, which was demoted from the I-League’s top division last month, would shut shop as it has been struggling for the last few years.

JCT, which had its roots in the erstwhile Leaders Club, had been the face of Punjab football ever since its formation in 1971 and had some of the finest Indian footballers in their ranks over the years. Coached by Sukhvinder Singh, they had won the inaugural National Football League after roping in the best national talent at that time, including Bhaichung Bhutia, I M Vijayan, Carlton Chapman and Jo Paul Ancheri.

JCT’s decision could also have an impact in All India Football Federation’s efforts to rope in corporate sector in the development of the game.

“JCT Limited has taken a strategic decision to pullout for the time being till football in India shows some possibility of generating value for corporates and their brands, besides bringing up popularity of football among youngsters,” a release from the club said.

“JCT Limited being a corporate, needs to justify to its stakeholders the effort vs visibility of the football team. Today, football teams worldwide have become self-sustaining enterprises for which high exposure is needed to build viewership and spectators in the stadium.

“JCT won the inaugural Football League in 1996, where there was high quality TV exposure and widespread public interest. But since then the League has had negligible exposure and the teams have been going almost unnoticed,” the release said.

The Punjab powerhouse side’s decision to pull out from competitive football has come a year after Mahindra United disbanded. JCT chief Samir Thapar had been critical of the inability of the AIFF to market the game.

JCT, however, will continue to work at the grass-root level football and also continue to run its academy.

Former players shocked

Meanwhile, Vijayan, Ancheri, Chapman and Bhutia couldn’t believe JCT was closing shop.
Bhutia, former India captain, said that unless AIFF finds ways to make the I-League a “commercial success”, more corporates would pull out.

“In 1996, when we won the inaugural National Football League, it was the golden period of JCT football. Myself, Vijayan, Jo-Paul (Ancheri), Carlton Chapman, Tejinder Kumar formed the core. I am definitely sad at the development of events as long as things don’t improve, more clubs will go the JCT way,” Bhutia said.

“The corporates have been spending money without any return. But how long. I am sad but not surprised,” Bhutia said. Vijayan said JCT was one of the well-managed clubs in India.

“It is indeed sad. We played for JCT and it is such a well managed club. When they have taken the decision it must be backed by some commercial thoughts,” he said. Ancheri said that JCT’s decision to disband was the last thing that Indian football needed.

“It is bad advertisement for Indian football. This is no way to go forward. JCT is such a glorious club. We have won so many trophies with the club. It is a very sad day in my life,” he said.

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