Sudeva FC won the bid to get corporate entry into I-League 2020-21 defeating Sreenidhi FC and Ryntih FC and top-level football will be back in the national capital.
Sudeva FC is based in Delhi and it will be the first time since Indian Super League side Delhi Dynamos left the city that a club will represent the state in either ISL or I-League.
The decision to induct Sudeva FC in the I-League was taken by the All India Football Federation's (AIFF) Bid Evaluation Committee who met via video conference on Wednesday.
Along with Sudeva getting the nod for the upcoming season, Vishakhapatnam-based Sreenidhi FC got the approval to enter I-League next season based on their bid.
Sudeva FC was earlier known as Moonlight FC, which has been part of Delhi football structure since 1960s and has won Delhi league titles on a few occasions.
"It is indeed a red letter day in the history of football in Delhi that a grand old club from Delhi will be part of I-League. The significance of this one decision by AIFF is going to be immense in changing the face of football in the Capital City.
"My heartfelt congratulations to Sudeva FC management and entire team for achieving this and giving Delhi an opportunity to celebrate and get inspired by the Committee work the club has undertaken to develop football in general and youth players in particular.
"I also take this opportunity to express my gratitude to AIFF leadership for granting Sudeva FC the opportunity to be part of I-League," Football Delhi president Shaji Prabhakaran said.
"We will work closely with Sudeva FC and extend all possible support to make the club successful in its journey. Executive Committee extends its best wishes to Sudeva FC."
Based on the corporate entry rule, Sudeva FC will be immune from relegation for the upcoming season.
League Committee Chairman Subrata Dutta said to www.the-aiff.com: "I on the behalf of AIFF, welcome Sudeva to the I-League family. I wish them all the best and look forward to a competitive league."
"I would also like to congratulate and welcome Sreenidhi from the 2021-22 edition of the I-League."
With the entry of Sudeva, I-League is back to having 11 teams after Mohun Bagan merged with ATK to move into the ISL.
"With Sudeva FC joining the fray, we now have 12 (sic) teams competing in the next Hero I-League. Most significantly, we now have a representation from the Capital," Dutta averred.
"Sreenidihi is also a well-organised professional club with good infrastructure and facilities. Their participation would naturally enrich the Hero I-League from 2021-22 onwards," he added.
"Both the clubs have been contributing to the youth football development in a big way for some years."
General Secretary Kushal Das mentioned how the introduction of teams from new cities falls in line with the AIFF's Strategic Plan to broad base the game and move forward together with all stakeholders.
"Welcome Sudeva to the I-League family. We have been working to get teams from different regions and cities to reach out to newer fans and provide the I-league more pan-Indian presence, which is in line with the AIFF Strategic Plan. Good luck," Das stated.
He also expressed his pleasure that Sreenidhi will be playing from Vizag from 2021-22 season.
League CEO Sunando Dhar hoped that like in the past, the introduction of a team from a new region will rejuvenate the 'beautiful game' further.
"We have seen in the past that the inclusion of a team from a new region has acted as a catalyst to develop football in that region. We are confident Sudeva from this season and Sreenidhi from next season would help develop and popularise football pan India in the coming years," Dhar expressed.
AIFF's Bid Evaluation Committee comprises of general secretary Kushal Das, senior vice-president Subrata Mukherjee and I-League CEO Sunando Dhar. The committee makes use of independent auditors to evaluate the bids and then takes a final call.
Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), a multinational professional services network of firms headquartered in London, are the independent auditors who go through the bid documents of each interested party and give their assessment to the Bid Evaluation Commit.