Bhaichung Bhutia closes the former I-League United Sikkim FC club

NEW DELHI: Ex I-League club United Sikkim FC on Sunday he decided to close the store to focus on football and avoid problems of conflict of interest derived from its founder Bhaichung Bhutia The association of the state with the governing body of the game.

Former Indian football team captain Bhaichung said in a statement that his club, founded in 2004, will be closed down after 15 years of existence during which it made it to the country top-tier I-League in 2012-13 season after winning the second division league.

This has been a very difficult decision for us. We are announcing with pain that United Sikkim Football Club will cease to exist as of today, the club said in the statement.

We have made the decision to close the club after 15 years of existence for two main reasons. First, to focus on grassroots football and, secondly, there has been a great conflict of interest since Bhaichung and Arjun are now part of the Sikkim. Football Association, said the statement signed by Bhaichung.

United Sikkim FC played in the 2012-13 I-League but was relegated from next season. Since then, the club has been playing in the state premier division (S-League), winning four titles.

United Sikkim was formed in 2004 by three friends, Bhaichung Bhutia, Arjun Rai & Sherap Lepcha & turned into a professional club for a short period of time in 2011.

"We were the first club from Sikkim & only the second from the Northeast to play in the I-League which was the highest league at that time. During that period, 14 to 18 local players were playing in the highest league in the country, compared to three or four players currently," the club said.

He said some players were also sent to trial in different clubs in India.

USFC sent Komal Thattal to Kolkata to play the Manchester Cup, where he was selected for the U-14 Indian team academy. One of the biggest products of USFC is Sandesh Jhingan, currently a player of the Indian national team.

In addition to four titles of the state league, United Sikkim won the Independence Cup twice.

It was the only club in India to have been sponsored by Nike in the I-League & by Lotto last year, the club statement said.