ISL 2016: ATK owner Sanjiv Goenka reveals the talk of more clubs from the city resulted in loss of fans
Atletico de Kolkata had a brilliant start under new manager Jose Molina but it is being observed that the die hard Kolkata supporters have not thronged to the stadium to support their once favourite team. A lot of reasons have been speculated over the low attendance in Kolkata and in a recent interview, team's principal owner, Sanjiv Goenka has revealed that the talk of multiple teams from the city has affected in the popularity of the team.
The primary reason for this is the plan to merge ISL and I-League which may see two or three teams from the city which is not a possibility. The league will have one city, one team rule which will be valid for at least two more seasons which might be troubling for the likes of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.
Goenka revealed in an interview with Hindustan Times, “I don’t know what is going to happen but if my views are sought on this, I’ll say I’m not in favour of two teams from Kolkata. The contentious issue of the number of teams from Kolkata aside, Goenka said ATK would do everything to make the league more popular once it gets longer.”
Another major impact that has affected Atletico de Kolkata is their change of stadium from the 65,000 capacity Salt Lake stadium to the one at Rabindra Sarobar which holds around 12,000. Salt Lake stadium is getting renovated as it is one of the venues announced for the U17 World Cup set to be held next year. Goenka reflected on this reason as he said, “I’ve lost Rs. 3 crore in sponsorship and Rs. 3-4 crore in gate receipts. My total loss is Rs. 15 crore over and above what is projected for this season.”
Goenka was, however, buoyant by his team's showing this campaign as the owner was also content with the professional work that is being done off the field. The businessman is a passionate owner who goes into the dressing room after every game and is always accessible to the players and staff.
On the increasing popularity of the league, Goenka said as he praised Nita Ambani for her relentless work. He continued, “We will support the ISL in every which way it is possible. I think IMG-Reliance has done a fantastic job of the league. And, hats off to Nita Ambani. It’s her drive that has taken the ISL to the level where it is.”
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