ISL 2017: Kerala Blasters achieve unique first in Indian football
What's the story?
Kerala Blasters, the two-time ISL finalists, have set a unique record among all Indian Super League clubs by becoming the first franchise to reach one million Twitter followers.
This is a first in the history of Indian football, with no other Indian club having as big a following on social media as Kerala Blasters.
In case you didn't know...
Kerala Blasters are one of the most-supported ISL clubs with their 60,000-capacity Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi being a cauldron during the club's ISL matches. Last season, the Blasters had the highest average attendance in the ISL and their home ground also hosted the title clash, which unfortunately the Men in Yellow lost.
The heart of the matter
As things stand, Kerala Blasters have a Twitter following of 1.01 million, with the likes of ATK and Chennaiyin FC lagging far behind with 369k and 293k Twitter followers respectively. Even the Indian national team's Twitter handle enjoys a markedly lesser following than Kerala Blasters at 287k, while the traditional heavyweights of Indian football like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan have negligible social media presence compared to the Blasters.
The official Twitter handle of the ISL has 508k followers, almost half the number of Kerala Blasters followers.
Last month, in the digital football rankings, Kerala Blasters finished above numerous top European champions in a list created on the basis of clubs' social media following. They were the highest ranked Indian club at 80th, ahead of fabled clubs like Celtic and PSV Eindhoven, former European Cup winners.
The ISL has had a makeover and a new-look season featuring ten teams kicks off in mid-November. The popular franchise league has also bagged an AFC Cup spot that kicks in from next season, something which could see clubs like Kerala Blasters achieve recognition in Asia as well.
With the almost fanatical following for football in Kerala, it was only a matter of time until Kerala Blasters' strong, enviable support base created a unique record in Indian football. An ISL title has remained elusive to the club despite them having reached two finals in three years. That said, their fans remain enthusiastic as ever and will once again make the Kochi stadium a fortress when the ISL comes around in November.