Want to play the ISL: Gokulam Kerala president

He said it was after the discussions with the Kerala Football Association some five years ago that the Gokulam business group decided to form the club.

Gokulam Kerala President V.C.Praveen (in pic) said that he wants his team to play ISL through the qualification route and not by paying the15 crores.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

With the I-League title in its kitty, Gokulam Kerala wants to graduate to the ISL.

“We want to play at the ISL by the qualification route,” the club’s president V.C. Praveen told Sportstar on Thursday.

“So if we win the I-League in the 2022-23 season, we would become eligible to play at the ISL. We don’t want to play by paying Rs. 15 crores.”

He said Gokulam winning the I-League title at Kolkata was nothing short of a dream-come-true for him.

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“When we formed this club in 2017, the target was that we should become the I-League champion within three or four years, and we are all delighted that we could do it,” said Praveen, who used to be a footballer during his student days.

“We were well-placed last year too before the league had to be stopped following the coronavirus outbreak.”

He hoped Gokulam’s victory would revitalise football in Kerala.

“Several club owners from Kerala had called me up on the eve of our last I-League match (against TRAU on Saturday) to say that they were praying for our victory,” he said. “They said it was important that the title came to Kerala.”

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He said it was after the discussions with the Kerala Football Association some five years ago that the Gokulam business group decided to form the club.

“They had requested us to be part of a consortium, but we were not keen,” Praveen said.

“We have already seen that such ventures may not succeed. Viva Kerala and FC Kochin are examples for that.”

So Gokulam decided to be the single-owner. “When I broached the idea, our chairman (and my father-in-law) Gokulam Gopalan was also all for it,” he said.

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“Yes, running a professional club is an expensive affair; we have spent something like Rs. 5 crores for this financial year.”

It is money well spent, though. Gokulam has the unique distinction of being the I-League and the Indian Women’s League champions at the same time.

“The brand of Gokulam Kerala has grown considerably over the years, and it is a valuable property now,” he said.

“That is one way of looking at the management of sports club. You cannot see a club as a standalone business for a corporate company.”

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