Durand Cup gets sponsor at last

In a boost to Asia’s oldest football tournament, the Durand Cup, an NRI-owned London-based multi-national corporation, Anglian Holdings, has chipped in as a sponsor after mobile cellular giant Micromax pulled out of the event at the last minute.

Anglian Holdings, which is owned by an Indian entrepreneur Uday Narang and also holds 26 per cent stake at I-League side Shillong Lajong, termed its decision to associate with the third oldest football tournament in the world as an “emotional” one.

“We were shocked that Asia’s oldest and world’s third oldest tournament was struggling to find a sponsor. We heard about main sponsor pulling out at the last minute. So we decided to pitch in to support the tournament. It was an emotional decision,” Anglian Holdings chief strategic officer Sandeep Narang said.

The main round of the tournament will begin from August 23 at the Ambedkar Stadium here with the final scheduled for September 1.

Sandeep, brother of Uday, said this time the company was just supporting the Durand Cup by providing monetary support but would look for a long-term association in the future.

The tournament had suffered a huge setback after main sponsors Micromax, which had promised Rs 35.5 lakh in writing, backed out in the last moment.

This forced the organisers to reduce the overall budget, which was a whopping Rs 1.54 crore last year.

In the 125th edition of the tournament this year, the total prize money on offer is Rs 20 lakh — winners will get Rs 10 lakh, while runners-up will pocket Rs 5 lakh and semifinalists Rs 2.5 lakh each.

Whereas last year, the winner alone took home Rs 20 lakh, runners-up got Rs 10 lakh and semifinalists received Rs 5 lakh each.

The tournament will be held in two phases — knock-out stage – which has already started from August 16 – and quarterfinal league round, which will commence on August 23.

In the knock-out round, 16 teams are fighting for three places up for grabs in the quarterfinal league stage.

In the quarterfinal league round, it will be a 12-team affair — eight I-League teams (Pune FC, Air India, HASC, Pailan Arrows, Sporting Club de Goa, ONGC, Dodsal Mumbai and Sesa de Goa), three qualifying teams from knock-out round and one services team.

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