Kerala Blasters CEO Varun Tripuraneni has admitted that the club is not close to realizing the dream of having their own football stadium.
Blasters currently play their home games in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi but it is owned by the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA). The ownership of the stadium was brought into the limelight when Kerala Cricket Association (KCA), who has the stadium on a lease, wanted to hold a One-Day International cricket match on the Kochi turf that was recently renovated for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Supporters of Kerala Blasters launched an online campaign under the hashtag 'Save Kochi Turf' and in the end, the KCA backed off. Since Kerala Blasters don't own the stadium, the issue is bound to return in the near future.
"Our dream is to have our own stadium. But again, it is a time-taking process. We are not anywhere close to it at the moment," said club CEO Varun Tripuraneni to Goal.
"We did have this issue about a cricket match proposed in Kochi (stadium). We did see the fans' reaction to it and thankfully, that's not happening at the moment. We did put our case forward to government officials and I am sure they will take the right decision."
Stadium ownership is a long-term commitment but the uncertainty over the structure of Indian football naturally places question marks over the long-term plans of ISL clubs.
"We are at a very early stage. We are moving into the fifth season of the ISL. To an extent, it has been a landmark year for the league. We do have the AFC spot now and also the season is much longer.
"The longer season is attracting more quality foreign players to the league. So that way, it has been like a great step towards the future.
"There have been a lot of talks about the merger. We have attended a couple of meetings with AFC as well, along with the I-League clubs. From our point of view, we would just be focusing on what we have to do right to build a good football club," stated Varun.
He also touched upon the fact that the club, which has a huge fanbase, needs to make further advancements when it comes to youth development.
"We already have a massive fanbase, we actually have to monetize it better. We have got a great opportunity there. The key is to build a good grassroots and youth development program which we have just initiated now. I can't say that we have been doing it all the while but I feel we have made a good step this year. And that's something that we will look to strengthen as we go along. We will invest quite a bit on that front.
"We will just do the key things right and when we have to make a decision or voice our opinion on what is right for ISL clubs, we will do it at the right time. But at the moment, we are just focusing on building the key blocks right," concluded Varun Tripuraneni.