After big-money moves, Blasters now looks at ways to make profit

ISL team Kerala Blasters co-owner Nimmagadda Prasad believes his team would start booking profits in about five years or so.

Prasad, the Blasters co-owner along with Sachin Tendulkar, cine star Chiranjeevi and Allu Arjun’s father Allu Aravind, is willing to be patient with the Kochi-based club which has the biggest fan base in the ISL.   -  Sachin

With badminton queens P.V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal winning precious Olympic and World Championship medals, Nimmagadda Prasad’s first big investment in sport has fetched amazing returns.

And the businessman from Andhra Pradesh feels that his ISL team Kerala Blasters would start booking profits in about five years or so. Prasad had lent Rs 5 crore to P. Gopichand to start his badminton academy many years ago, and the centre is now churning out some of the planet’s best players.

Prasad, the Blasters co-owner along with Sachin Tendulkar, cine star Chiranjeevi and Allu Arjun’s father Allu Aravind, is willing to be patient with the Kochi-based club which has the biggest fan base in the ISL.
 

“In the first year, the Blasters lost about Rs 33 crore, another 25 to 30 crore the next year…last year, the losses had come down to around Rs 20 crore. So, in three years time, we have lost around Rs 80 crore,” said Prasad.


“But I am hoping that we will break even after five years and start making profits after that.”

Star India’s $2.5 billion deal for the Indian Premier League’s media rights for the next five years has offered Prasad hopes that the ISL’s magical moment could come one day too.

“Honestly, I would like to see that day,” said Prasad who also co-owns ProKabaddi League team Tamil Thalaivas and Premier Badminton League side Bengaluru Blasters. For now, Prasad and his fellow owners want to package the Blasters brand better. “We want the ‘Blasters’ brand to be only associated with Kerala, that is why we have decided to change the name of our badminton team Bengaluru Blasters.”
 

The Blasters team enjoys a strong rapport with its fans, through thick and thin, and the team management could also be introducing club merchandise this season. “I think we do have the fan base and the market for merchandise. We just need a good plan and strategy in place and am sure we will do well,” said the Blasters CEO Varun Tripuraneni.


The Blasters, the ISL runner-up twice including last year, has trimmed its non-football expenses this season but, under its new coach Rene Meulensteen, has splashed big money in signing big stars including Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov.
 

“The team’s budget has gone up but at the same time, we did some smart spending. We spent in such a way that we now have experience players and youngsters revolving around them,” said Prasad.


With former Shillong Lajong coach Thangboi Singo, the Blasters’ assistant coach who is also the technical director (youth development), the club is also focusing on the grassroots. “One day, we want a Kerala player to play for an international club. That is our long-term dream,” said Prasad.