The acquisition of majority stakes in Viva Kerala Sports Club by Chirag Computers has come in as good news to the Kannur-based side. However, the club fans fear that the Kolkata firm may force the club to shift it’s base to Kolkata. All eyes are now on the availability of the Kochi stadium which is also used by the Kochi Tuskers in the India Premier League (IPL).
Viva Kerala play their home matches of the I-League at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kannur. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and All India Football Federation (AIFF) are not satisfied with the standards of the stadium which may not be granted the clearance to host I-League games next season.
Recently, in an interview with Goal.com, chairman of Chirag Computers Mr. Kaustav Roy had hinted that they may have to shift the club’s base to Kolkata if they do not find an alternate venue.
The Kochi stadium is the only option Viva Kerala can think of as their former home venue at Kozhikode is under renovation. But with Kochi Tuskers playing their home matches of the IPL at the Kochi stadium, the chances of Viva Kerala staying in their home state look slim.
The club officials are trying to convince the IPL organizers and Kochi Tuskers to move their cricket matches to Ahmedabad in Gujarat. Viva Kerala director Liaquat Ali is hopeful this move can pass through despite several hurdles.
“We have not yet discussed this, but we are certainly trying to have our games at Kochi. It is possible but we have to do a lot to get the stadium. The only problem is the IPL. So we are trying to see if the IPL matches can be shifted to Ahmedabad. BCCI have not yet given any permission to shift the IPL matches out of Kerala but I am hopeful that it will happen,” Ali told Goal.com.
“At the moment we are not thinking of shifting the club’s base. Even Chirag want to stay in Kerala because they are planning to enter Kerala in a big way,” added Ali.
Ali, whose stakes were among the 51 percent capital value of the club that Chirag Computers own now, feels that the involvement of the Kolkata firm is good for the club and football in Kerala.
“For us it is a matter of finance and they are ready to give that so it is good for us and Kerala football,” he said.
Meanwhile, Viva Kerala fans are not too happy with the fact that the club may have to move out of the state. Goal.com caught up with a few fans to know their opinion.
“It was a relief at first when I heard that someone will buy stakes in the club so that made sure we did not need to go the JCT way. But Mr. Kaustav Roy has said that he will rename the club to Chirag Kerala and if needed he may shift the club’s base to Kolkata, if not this year maybe next. Hearing this is extremely disheartening as Kerala has already lost a club in FC Kochi. Viva was something football loving Mallus could support. Personally I feel that if, like the Indian Arrows, Viva also change base then how will football grow in this country out of the traditional pockets?,” questioned Suraj Shaji, a club fan currently living in Delhi.
“AIFF must not let this happen and KFA (Kerala Football Association) should help Viva get the Kochi stadium. That will solve the problems and the new owners should spend money in building a strong fan base which may in turn popularise Chirag Computers in Kerala and help the owners too. I wish all this happens rather than moving to an already overcrowded Kolkata,” said Suraj who feels he will have no team to support in the I-League if Viva move out of the state.
Shaheer Ab, from Kasaragod, had similar thoughts but is also happy that Chirag can offer all that Viva Kerala may require to become a top notch side in the country. “Chirag will certainly boost the team financially which is the biggest need to become a strong force in Indian football. I hope they continue investing in the club for a long time. But I am certainly not in favour of shifting the club to another state. Be it named Viva Kerala or Chirag Kerala, it doesn’t matter much but imagine the team playing its home games in another state while their fans are in Kerala. Will the team have the real home advantage then? It sounds funny when you say - Chirag Kerala or Viva Kerala based in Kolkata! I really hope the club management do not make such a foolish mistake,” Shaheer said.
Amol Govindh, another fan from Kannur, believes that Viva Kerala is the reason why football is alive in the state. He said, “Viva Kerala is the only club here youngsters look up to. There are several players who want to play for Viva Kerala. If the club moves out of the state, where will these players go? Besides, we have seen how the number of fans has decreased after the league games were shifted from Kozhikode to Kannur. Imagine what the condition will be if the club moves out of the state? The team may not have a single supporter.”