KOCHI: Sachin Tendulkar on Sunday announced that he has sold his shares at the Kochi-based Indian Super League franchise Kerala Blasters FC, ending a four-year love affair with Kerala and football which began in 2014 with the inception of the new domestic football league.
Tendulkar, who partnered entrepreneur Prasad V Potluri to buy the franchise pumping in a reported Rs 120 crore over 10 years, has decided to sell his 20 per cent stake to majority shareholders — film stars Chiranjeevi, Akkineni Nagarjuna, producer Allu Aravind and industrialist Nimmagadda Prasad — who together bought Potluri’s shares in 2016.
However, sources close to the club say this was long time coming. It is no secret that each of the eight ISL clubs suffer losses every season.
On an average, it was around Rs 25 crore per team in the first season. Although this figure came down to around Rs 10-12 crore last season, it’s still a significant amount of money for some of the investors. A financial turnaround was first forecast for 2017, but that timeline has now been moved to 2022.
Over the last four seasons, the Kerala club’s losses alone have run into almost Rs 100 crore. Sources say that the cricketer did not find the investment economically viable. From the club’s side too, cutting ties with the Master Blaster seems to be the right move. Club sources said Tendulkar had been pocketing around Rs 1 crore for each appearance at Blasters’ home matches.
“It’s true that the club had been spending a lot of money to bring the former cricketer to the stadium, but it paid off as the club owes a lot to Sachin for its huge popularity among the masses,” said a club official. “In its fifth year, it is important that Blasters put the building blocks for the next five years and beyond. It is also a time for me to reflect on the role that I should play.
After reflecting and much discussion with my team, I have decided to end my association with Blasters as a copromoter,” Tendulkar said of his decision.
“Sachin has been a great support and we thank him for his immense contribution to the club. He will forever be a member of the Yellow Army,” said Blasters in a statement. It has been learnt that the club are in talks with the former batsman to remain as a brand ambassador and be associated with the club.
Blasters Sports Pvt Ltd are reportedly in talks with suitors like Kerala businessman MA Yusuff Ali’s Lulu Group International to sell off their stakes.
“With frequent collaborators Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, Aravind and Prasad on their own now after buying Sachin’s stakes, negotiations for selling the club will become a whole lot simpler now,” said the source.