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Football

Hyderabad FC plunges into deep trouble amidst financial crisis

Hyderabad FC, the winner of the 2021-22 ISL, has been in a colossal financial crisis, with players and support staff revolting for non-payment of salary, revealing a compelling story of triumph turned turmoil.

Hyderabad FC plunges into deep trouble amidst financial crisis
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Hyderabad FC won the ISL in 2021-2022 season. (Image via HFC IG)

By

Aswathy Santhosh

Updated: 1 Jan 2024 9:11 AM GMT

The narrative surrounding the 2021-22 Indian Super League champions, Hyderabad FC, is a compelling saga. Transitioning from being the top club for young talents in 2020-21 to clinching the ISL trophy the following year, Hyderabad embodied the Nizams' aspiration to revive their years-old footballing legacy.

Despite public awareness of internal challenges preceding the season, financial problems have been irritating the club since 2022. Football Sports Development Limited, the owner of the league, provided them with financial aid, which slowed down the acceleration of its financial crisis.

However, differences between the then coach of the club Manolo Marquez and the management were visible from the press conferences, and HFC could never recover from the growing disaster.

Fast forward to the Durand Cup 2023, Conor Nestor, Thangboi Singto, and Shameel Chembakath took charge as the leadership group of the club. However, things were not as good inside as it was outside.

The Bridge was the first to break the news about Hyderabad FC not being able to register new players with a few days to go for the season due to a transfer ban imposed by FIFA due to non-payment of dues to Nigerian striker Bartholomew Ogbeche. But that was not the only problem; the players who remained with the club from the year before and beyond refused to come for training as their dues were pending.

When the transfer ban was lifted, and the club managed to convince the players to play the Durand Cup. Most unhappy were the club's high profile foreign recruits, as leaving their home and coming to a new country and not getting paid is the worst nightmare one can imagine. Jonathan Moya was the first one to revolt against the ongoing mess when he refused to travel to Kolkata for their away game.

The club used to convince players promising them salary on multiple dates; even the cyclone in Chennai was used as an excuse once. However, once their patience ran out, Jonathan Moya, Philippe Amorim, and Oswaldo left the club. Many of the Indian players have also put in letters asking the club to terminate their contracts as the final deadline for clearing dues is over.

But more than the players, the lower-tier employees have been dealing with their worst sufferings. One of the staff had to run pillar to post in pursuit of money for his wife's surgery, as the club didn't pay his salary. In the end, the players stepped in to cover the expenses on the ground of compassion. There were days when the players covered the food expenses for their low-earning support staff. Whatever has been happening at HFC is a pure breach of humanity and exploitation.

Internal politics and favouritism

However, the problems have not ended with only financial issues. As of today, the return of Conor Nestor to the club is unlikely. The reality is that Conor was removed as the head coach after the first seven games of the season and Thangboi Singto took charge from the game against NorthEast United FC.

Although it's not new in football, what was new was the club not communicating about it to Conor or making it official. The club captain, Joao Victor, communicated it to the players through a WhatsApp group message, and that was the end of Nestor's journey with HFC.

Things only got worst from here on. The training sessions shrunk to 30-40 minutes under the new in-charge, Singto, and players like Mark and Gurmeet were removed from the starting XI for unknown reasons. Kattimani was not playing due to an injury, and Gurmeet was performing well.

This essentially led to another split in the dressing room, leaving the club's ISL 2023-24 campaign in complete shamble. Hyderabad FC is now reeling at the rock bottom of the league standings.

Even the training sessions were being affected by the financial struggles. On one occasion, the bus driver who takes the players to the training threatened not to come, and food vendors refused to co-operate due to the non-payment of their salary for months. And the latest was the Ramada hotel in Jamshedpur filing an FIR against the owners of the club - Varun Tripuraneni, due to the non-payment of bill of three days.

Although there were talks of new investors coming in, nothing solid has been out in the public. Hyderabad FC is in need of quick financial injections, or the future of the club remains alarmingly dangerous.

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