Sachin Tendulkar confirms Kerala Blasters exit

Tendulkar has been associated with the franchise since its inception in 2014.

Sachin Tendulkar was associated with Kerala Blasters between the period 2014 and 2018. (File Image)   -  H. Vibu

His inspiring presence was one of the factors that drew huge crowds to the Kochi’s Nehru Stadium for Kerala Blasters’ Indian Super League games.

Sachin Tendulkar’s presence, as a co-owner, also added a lot of value to the Kochi-based club.

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But now, after four years and just a few weeks before the ISL’s fifth edition, Tendulkar has decided to leave the club.

“Over the last four years, Kerala Blasters FC has been an integral part of my life. I have undergone all the emotions that millions of Blasters fans have undergone during this period,” said Tendulkar, in a statement, on Sunday.

“In its fifth year, it is important that the club puts 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 exit my association with Blasters as a co-promoter.

“I strongly believe that Blasters is in very good shape and on its path to attain many more successes with its fans offering unconditional support. I am very proud of the Blasters and a piece of my heart will always beat for the club!”

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‘Mere speculation’

There had been talk doing the rounds that billionaire businessman M.A. Yusuf Ali’s Lulu Group had bought the Blasters. But the Blasters management said that it was mere speculation.

“The existing 80 per cent  shareholders of KBFC, comprising of IQuest, Chiranjeevi and Allu Arvind have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Tendulkar’s 20 per cent stake in the club,” said Varun Tripuraneni, the Blasters CEO.

“Any other news regarding the shareholding is purely speculative in nature.”

The Blasters thanked Tendulkar for his long association with the club.

“Sachin has been a great support and we thank him for his immense contribution to the KBFC. He will forever be a member of the Yellow Army,” the Blasters said.

“We will continue to uphold and take forward the spirit of the sport, the spirit of the fans and the spirit of Kerala.”

A few years ago, there had been talk that the Muthoot Pappachan Group was buying a large stake in the Blasters. That, however, did not work out.

“They had asked us about six months ago but it involves a long-term financial commitment,” said a top Muthoot official.

“Since the club has a huge fan base, it could start getting returns after its eighth year but you need to burn a lot of money during this period, something like Rs. 25 crore every year.”