In less than a week of Indian Super League (ISL) club FC Pune City closing down and being replaced by Hyderabad FC, the franchise-based league is set to see a new team, Odisha FC. The team will be based in Bhubaneswar and will make its debut for the 2019-20 season.
Odisha FC will, however, be just a rebranding of the erstwhile Delhi Dynamos, two-time semi-finalists in 2015 and 2016, and will play their home games at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar. The agreement between the Odisha state government and Delhi Soccer Pvt. Ltd. was signed on Saturday, and will mean Odisha can continue with players that had been previously contracted to Delhi.
This is unlike the lack of clarity surrounding Hyderabad FC, where confusion prevails over which of Pune City's players would be available to play for the new club this season. Further, several Pune regulars have already signed on for other clubs for the coming season -- prominent examples being Ashique Kuruniyan (Bengaluru), Sarthak Golui and Diego Carlos (both Mumbai City FC) and Vishal Kaith announced as a Chennaiyin FC player on Saturday.
ESPN understands that the Delhi Dynamos management had been mulling a change in venue for some time now, owing to the high cost of renting out the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for the entire season, as well as a sharp decline in average attendance over the past two seasons. After starting out with 15,713 in the first season, the second and third ISL seasons had produced average attendances of 19,409 and 19,357, respectively, but had dropped since to 6,886 and 7,096 over the fourth and fifth seasons of the league.
According to the ISL fixtures released earlier in the month, Delhi Dynamos were slated to get going with the third match of the season, an away fixture at Jamshedpur FC on October 22. An official announcement clarifying the schedules for both Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC is expected from the league soon.