Phagwara based football club JCT FC(prev. JCT Mills), for long the face of football in the Northern parts of India, was disbanded yesterday, confirming rumours that had been going around the Indian footballing circles for the past few weeks. The news landed a bitter blow on the face of Indian Football and the trend is worrying, for two India’s leading clubs JCT and Mahindra United have both disbanded within the last one year citing a lack of popularity of the domestic clubs and televsion coverage of football in the country.
JCT, winners of the inaugaral National Football League(now the I-League) in the 1996-97 season, have been home to some of India’s leading stars- Bhaichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri, I.M. Vijayan, Renedy Singh and Jo-Paul Ancheri amongst others. JCT had for long been fighting a lone battle to increase football popularity in these parts of the country and give the people up north their go-to club, becoming the first non-Kolkata club to win the IFA Shield in the process along with that inaugaral NFL title. Despite the flourish that they once had, the last couple of years for them had been much less successful, often been dogged by debts and insufficient finances. The team’s relegation in the last I-League season acted as the final nail in the coffin, pulling them beyond the point of no return resulting in the club’s professional football team being disbanded, though their works at the grass roots and their much famed youth academy would still function.
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