Parth Jindal, Bengaluru FC’s CEO, said the club’s next goal was to qualify for the group stages of the AFC Champions League.
Addressing reporters here at a press conference on Wednesday, two days after the club won the I-League title, Parth said: “We have dreamt and we have dreamt big. Our next goal should be becoming the first Indian side to qualify for the Champions League proper.”
Usually, the winners of the I-League are given a play-off spot in Asia’s premier cup competition if they satisfy AFC’s Club Licensing Criteria. Last year, while Churchill Brothers were the winners, they were not given a place because of not satisfying the club licensing criteria.
When BFC were formed, the owners – Jindal Steel Works – had fought with the All India Football Federation (AIFF), to get the club a relegation free status for three years so as to give a safety net for the investors.
A lot of people weren’t pleased that BFC were given relegation free status but Parth defended the move. “For a new club, it gives them a level of security. Having that security is important because of the kind of investment that we are talking about.”
Asked if BFC, now the champions, still need the safety net, Parth said, “we might not need it but the others may need it.”
One of the main reasons why JSW got the green signal from AIFF to purchase the club was because of their committment to rebuild the Bangalore Football Stadium and Parth said the work would commence as soon as the State government clears it. “I have been informed that the papers are with State government right now, and so as soon as they clear it, the demolition work will start.”
As a result of the work at the BFS, The Blues will play their home games from next season at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium and Parth assured that they will spruce it up to keep the fans happy. “Yes, we will be sprucing up the Kanteerava Stadium to ensure that the same facilities that were there at the BFS would be replicated.
Parth also mentioned the fact that football in India, without the help of corporates, is a loss-making industry and urged the AIFF to dole out a percentage of TV revenues to the clubs.
BFC coach Ashley Westwood, skipper Sunil Chhetri, club consultant Mandar Tamhare, COO Mustafa Ghouse and assistant coach Pradhyum Reddy were also present at the press meet.