Kolkata: Co-owner of Kolkata franchise, Sourav Ganguly today said that Spanish side Atletico Madrid's keen interest in Indian Super League football tournament would be beneficial for the game in the country in long run.
Atletico Madrid, on their website, has already announced the name of the Kolkata team as Atletico de Madrid Kolkata even though the consortium of five entities is yet to do so. “It's just out of passion... Actually we are happy that they (Atletico Madrid) are putting in a lot of interest. You can see it in some other way like they have jumped up and given the name,” Ganguly, a former Indian cricket team captain, said in the city franchise's first official media interaction here.
“You have to accept that they are one of the best football teams in the world. We have to accept that if they become part of the Indian football, the sport will be benefited in the end.
“When a young footballer sees Atletico being the number one team in the La Liga ... Spain being the current holders of the World Cup, they will be benefited. Everything gets benefited. It's a good sign for us that the best side in the world has shown so much of interest in this franchise. I always say the sport has to take over at the end of the day.” The city franchise is the only team in the eight-team league to have on board a foreign club as the consortium is owned by Atletico Madrid, Ganguly and three top city-based industrialists in Harshavardhan Neotia, Sanjiv Goenka and Utsav Parekh.
Asked if the Spanish giants would have the last word in the club, Ganguly said, “I'm not saying that. I categorically say that we may or may not go their way but what I'm trying to say is that it's great to see their interest.”
Admitting that it would be a challenging task compared to the money-spinning Indian Premier League (IPL), Ganguly said it's a risk but they were hoping to develop the sport and reap benefits in the long run.
“Don't compare it with cricket ... It's an honest confession. But as we say, it's a start of something. Hopefully, somewhere down the line things would improve. “We pray that all the money that we put in gets recovered. But it's not going to be easy,” Ganguly stated.
“I know cricket has a lot of support from corporates, the Board. But football needs a lot of support from everyone,” Ganguly said.
“More importantly, we have to produce footballers. At the end of the day, the game needs to support the franchise.” He thanked Atletico Madrid, Neotia, Goenka and Parekh for their support in putting together the team that won the bid in the IMG Reliance franchise-based football league in Mumbai yesterday.
Terming this as the big step forward in Indian football, Ganguly said: “The involvement of such a strong professional unit is a massive step forward. Hopefully they can make a difference and raise the standard of the players in the city... Hopefully we can one of the successful teams.” Talking about the squad, Ganguly said they would have to balance the side with the right mix of marquee player and value added player.
“We have to balance the team. It's one marquee player, we have a tie-up with Atletico, we will have players coming in for the League. We will have to balance the squad between investment and the value from the player.” The football infrastructure in the country may not be promising but Ganguly was confident that everything would fall in place gradually.
“Both Sachin Tendulkar and I started playing cricket on mat surface. We did not have the best facilities available. World's greatest are produced without the best of facilities.
“It will gradually become better, it's no rocket science. For starters, we need a net, a ground and a football,” Ganguly said, hoping that they would get the facilities at the state-owned Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan in Saltlake. Atletico Madrid key officials would arrive in the city on May 6 and as per the guidelines, the names, jersey related to the franchise would have to be finalised within a month's time.