Shillong, Jun 8: Although it was long expected, today brought formal confirmation that Shillong United FC will not be taking part in this season’s Shillong Premier League (SPL), with the organiser, the Shillong Sports Association (SSA), announcing that it is looking to fill the vacancy through an auction for a club interested in direct entry to the top division.

In a press release the SSA said that the auction will follow the closed bid system and those interested should contact the body from 11th June for details and terms and conditions. The last date to submit offers is 23rd June by 3PM.

This is the second vacancy in the SSA’s football structure that it is hoping to fill after Boys Sports Company of 58 Gorkha Training Centre decided not to contest this year’s First Division.

On a phone call with TSR today, SSA Honorary Secretary Bor Diengdoh informed that SUFC hadn’t bothered to communicate their intention of not taking part in the SPL.

All SPL teams, barring Meghalaya Police, are required to take part in the U-18 SPL, which acts as the season opening tournament. However, as United did not submit their squad list, the SSA wrote to them but there was still no response from last season’s sixth-placed team.

“We wrote to them that if they do not respond by the required date then the SSA has the right to take back the slot,” Diengdoh said. “They didn’t inform anything officially.”

We brought you the news at the end of April that it was rumoured that SUFC would be pulling out and that rumour was only strengthened by subsequent comments made by those in the football fraternity and even within the club. It seemed an almost certainty last month when details were released about who signed who in the SSA’s transfer window, with 25 SUFC players leaving and none being signed.

Back in April an SSA source had said that SPL 2018 would likely be reduced to seven clubs as it was too late to offer the one slot to a direct entry team because the transfer window had already opened by then. However, it’s understood that provisions for player signings are included in the terms and conditions for teams interested in taking part.

Meanwhile, when asked about whether there had been any interest shown in the Boys Sports Company spot in the First Division, Diengdoh declined to comment, saying that he was “keeping his cards close” for now.

(TSR file photo)

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