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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

ISL participation not on the cards for Chennai City FC after tie-up with FC Basel

Chennai City FC announced a partnership with reigning Swiss champions FC Basel in New Delhi on Wednesday with the later acquiring 26% stakes of Chennai City.

football Updated: Feb 06, 2019 17:55 IST
Sayan Ghosh
Sayan Ghosh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Chennai City FC announced a tie-up with FC Basel.
Chennai City FC announced a tie-up with FC Basel.(AIFF)

It has been quite a memorable season for Chennai City FC till now. The Coimbatore-based club have impressed everyone with their brand of football and with 30 points from 14 matches, they are currently leading the pack in the I-League with Churchill Brothers and Real Kashmir FC hot on their heels.

While the fate of the season will be decided after six more rounds, Chennai City FC have already taken a big step in strengthening their future. The club announced a partnership with reigning Swiss champions FC Basel in New Delhi on Wednesday with the latter acquiring 26% stakes in Chennai City.

The partnership focused mainly on cooperation for setting up among other things, a best-in-class Residential Youth Academy in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu and rolling out Soccer Schools across the State in Phase-1. While the amount of investment was not revealed by both parties, it is the first time that foreign investment in terms of acquiring ownership in an Indian club took place in that manner.

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Ahead of the announcement, there were rumours that with Indian football likely to have only one league from next season, the investment might pave the way for Chennai City FC to bid for a place in the Indian Super League (ISL). However, club owner Rohit Ramesh denied any such possibility.

“To be very honest, playing in the ISL is not on the cards at all. We are happy where we are and we are focused on the remaining six games in the I-League season. Our focus is on improving our infrastructure and we are not looking to join the ISL any time soon,” Rohit told the media in the press conference.

With a major restructuring in Indian football on the cards, there is a chance that I-League can be relegated to being the second tier competition but Rohit is not bothered by the possibility. The Chennai City FC owner said that he knows there will be some challenges but they are ready to face them.

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The other issue that Chennai City FC has faced since its inception is the inability to play their home games in Chennai. With ISL side Chennaiyin FC playing their games at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the I-League matches were held in Coimbatore. When asked about a possible shift of venue in the future, the club made it clear that they are happy with their current situation and are not looking for a change.

“I have not thought about it (shifting to Chennai). As of now, we are based in Coimbatore and will continue to do so. “At Coimbatore, the costs cut down to half when it comes to facilities. Also, since the city is in the middle of Tamil Nadu, it’s convenient to reach out to fans of Tamil Nadu,” he explained.

First Published: Feb 06, 2019 17:31 IST

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