DSK Shivajians will be the tenth club to play in the I-League this year, the club announced. Founded in 1987, DSK will be the sole representative from Pune in the I-League -- after Bharat FC and Pune FC shut down their first-team operations after last season.
The AIFF will be relieved at the development after the pull outs of the two Pune clubs along with Shillong-based Royal Wahingdoh had left the league with only eight teams. DSK's entry makes it nine.
Owned and operated by business conglomerate DSK Group, the team will be based out of DSK Dream City in Pune -- a sporting academy spread over 300 acres. Dream City is also an integrated township which has large commercial spaces and over 14,000 apartments.
The ninth season of the I-League commences on 9 January 2016 and will go on till May. The Derrick Pereira managed team will play their first match away in Goa against Sporting on 17 January 2016.
Perreira's squad will see the likes of Subrata Paul and Zohib Amiri among other stars.
"We are very excited to take our first steps into the I-League. We have made significant additions to the squad, with players with international pedigree and I-League experience joining the team. Our team has shown strong work ethic over the pre-season. The hard work and dedication shown by the players has been commendable. We hope that we can make Pune proud with an impressive outing," the former Salgaocar coach said.
"This is a proud moment for the DSK Group and DSK Shivajians Football Club as the club prepares to participate in the I-League. It marks the progression of the club over the period of time. To share the stage with some of the biggest names in Indian football will be a matter of great pride for everyone involved with the club,” Shirish Kulkarni, President, DSK Shivajians FC said.
“Our state-of-the-art infrastructure and our continued investment in our first team and academy finds us in a position where we are confident of taking the right steps towards establishing DSK Shivajians as one of the leading football clubs in India, with best practices both on and off the pitch,” Ardeshir Jeejeebhoy, CEO of the club, added.
Over the past few years, DSK Shivajians have dominated various local and regional tournaments, winning competitions like PDFA League, Chittaranjan Gold Cup, President’s Cup, VOBA Cup and the DSK Cup. In 2014, to provide young footballers a platform to showcase and develop their talents, DSK tied up with Premier League side Liverpool to form the Liverpool FC International Academy. The academy provides a platform to budding footballers to showcase their talent while developing their skills.