Sourav Ganguly recently bought the Kolkata franchise in the ISL © Getty Images
Kolkata: Apr 14, 2014
A day after bagging the rights of ISL’s Kolkata franchise with Spanish side Atletico Madrid as one of the partners, former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly hoped the other franchises would also try to rope in leading international clubs to better Indian soccer.
“I hope not only Atletico, other seven franchises will also talk to big international clubs. That will benefit Indian football,” Ganguly said here.
Visibly excited after getting the Spanish soccer giants on board, he said Atletico Madrid agreed to join after they were told it was for the Kolkata team.
“They agreed to join when they were told it would be for the Kolkata franchise. Kolkata is the nerve centre for Indian football. The game in the country is linked to the city.”
Ganguly said the Spanish side’s representatives would come to the city within a week.
“We will hold talks with them and decide the name, jersey of the team in the next three to four weeks. We will come to know the players we will get. It depends on the players IMG and Reliance make available in the auction”.
Ganguly said he would also leave for Spain shortly to form an idea about Atletico Madrid’s approach to the game and how they wanted to get attached to the franchisee.
“There will be an official announcement there. I will see their set-up, the players they will make available from their ranksa the coaches they will senda the infrastructure they have.”
Hoping that Atletico Madrid would play a part in taking forward Indian football, Ganguly said, “Quality of the game was most important. The standard will determine whether the crowd will be drawn, and who would win.”
He stressed the need for commercialization of sports, citing the example of cricket. “Why does cricket survive? Why is Eden Gardens beautiful? Why is the ground maintained by the Mumbai Cricket Association so beautiful? Because the associations get commercial support to maintain their ground, gallery, dressing room etc.
“Nothing comes for free. If the All India Football Federation generates money, it will filter down to football in the state. It will improve the game in Bengal, in India.”
Laying emphasis on all stakeholders coming together, he said: “If everybody comes on board, the standards will definitely improve.”
Besides Ganguly and Atletico Madrid, industrialists Harshavardhan Neotia and Sanjiv Goenka, and merchant banking and financial services expert Utsav Parekh hold stakes in the Kolkata franchise.