Chennai City FC ‘there for the long-term’, says co-owner

Rohit Ramesh is unfazed amidst the problems that have surrounded the club.

“We have bought the club to give chances to Tamil Nadu players,” says Rohit Ramesh.   -  R. Ragu

 

Controversies have been chasing Rohit Ramesh, the co-owner of Chennai City FC, like a shadow at the I-League. In its first season, City has had enough issues to deal with.

From the removal of its first coach Robin Charles Raja, to the delayed payments to its players, alleged players’ revolt and the recent public spat between the club’s striker Haroon Amiri and the coach V. Soundararajan, the president of the club has faced a barrage of problems, but in all this, he has remained unfazed.

“I told Amiri to speak to Soundararajan personally, but things got out of hand,” said Rohit.

He also stressed that whatever decisions the club has made has been in the interest of its stakeholders, while admitting that most of the issues have been due to miscommunication between the players and management.

Excerpts:

Q: Please elaborate on delayed payments made to Chennai City FC players and the alleged players revolt?

A: “I don’t think there was a players’ revolt. There is no connection between the two. We told them (players) that there is a process. We have to go through certain procedures, protocols and guidelines. We got the entry late [into I-league]. Now we have formalised everything. All the process henceforth will be done better and quicker.

Q: Could things have been handled better?

A: Most of the issues, I would have say has been due to miscommunication from both sides, players and management. There is no personal agenda, no personal vendetta. I still feel that whatever we’ve done, we have done it in the right manner. In which club has the management supported the player and sent out the coach? It has not happened. Our players stay in a five-star hotel in home games, which not many teams have done.

Q: Will the club continue next year, given the problems it has faced this year?

A: According to me, the only issue facing us was the ground thing (Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu charging a heavy sum for Chennai City FC to train every day before its I-League match). We aren’t a structured club yet. With limited time-frame we are doing the best we can. We are there for the long-term, no doubts about that.

Q: On giving chances to Tamil Nadu players?

A: Only if you give chances to them, you’ll  know. For the first time, five players from Tamil Nadu, D. Ravanan, Dhanpal Ganesh, Raegan, Soosai Raj and Nandhakumar, started in the match against Bengaluru at home on Wednesday, which is remarkable. We have bought the club to give chances to Tamil Nadu players.

Q: When it comes to results and giving chances to Tamil Nadu players, which one will you choose?

A: I would say 50-50. Today, Ravanan and Dhanpal Ganesh are able to groom Nandhakumar, Raegan and Soosai Raj. They look up to the two senior players. The agenda is to put Tamil Nadu players in limelight. There is no change in that. For that, you have to give more chances to them. If I had got players from Mumbai and Goa and none from Tamil Nadu and still won the I-league, the media would have said that Chennai City has not groomed Tamil Nadu players. Either way we are criticised.

Raegan played in few matches only for a few minutes as a substitute. Against [Bengaluru FC] at home, he played for 80 minutes, Nanda, too played for 90 mins and Soosai for 87 mins. That, for me, is something great.

Q: How they play is secondary?

A: Not at all. Seeing them, more players will come on board. It will inspire more and more Tamil Nadu players to play in the I-league.

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