'No Kolkata, no ISL' for Shah Rukh Khan
While Bollywood biggies may flaunt their new-found status as football team owners, Shah Rukh Khan has revealed how he refused to be a part of the Indian Super League (ISL) for not being able to lay hands on the team from his beloved Kolkata.
Shah Rukh, who co-owns Indian Premier League (IPL) team Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), expressed his regret about his inability to own the city franchise for the high-profile football tournament, which has stars like Abhishek Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Hrithik Roshan and John Abraham as team co-owners.
"It's very unfortunate and sad for me... I very much wanted to be part of the ISL and own a football team. But there was no way that I would have Kolkata. And if I can't have Kolkata, then I am not playing football for any other city or state," Shah Rukh told media persons in Kolkata.
The actor, who is the brand ambassador of West Bengal, revealed how he tried to persuade people to allow him to bid for city Kolkata franchise, which eventually went to a consortium comprising, among others, former team India and KKR skipper Sourav Ganguly.
Owned by Kolkata Games and Sports Pvt. Ltd, the Kolkata franchise has been christened Atletico de Kolkata.
"I remember, I met everyone but could not get Kolkata. I was offered every other team but I said no I don't want it. If I don't get Kolkata as the football team, then I don't want to play football in my life," said Shah Rukh on a whirlwind trip to the city Wednesday to promote his latest Bollywood release "Happy New Year".
A self-confessed football fan, Shah Rukh said he took to IPL because he was told the cricket league would subsequently diversify to football.
"I took to IPL because I was told that it will later extend into soccer and I love football. If you love football, you have to play for Kolkata and no other city. All my love to Mumbai because I am from there, my love to Delhi because I was born there but the team to back is Kolkata," said Shah Rukh, calling Kolkata his 'home town'.
While sad at not to have owned it, Shah Rukh asserted the Kolkata team was in more deserving hands of Ganguly.
"Even today (Thursday) when I was flying down here (Kolkata), I felt sad that I don't have Kolkata. But it is in better hands than me when Dada (Ganguly) is doing it. Dada is more deserving and I wish him and rest of the owners all the best and hope they win the championship."