|Ganguly (left), Khan
Calcutta, April 13: Three years after being shown the door by Shah Rukh Khan, principal owner of the IPL’s Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Sourav Ganguly can actually cock a snook at the modern-day badshah of Bollywood.
Reason being Sourav’s in the consortium, including Atletico de Madrid, which has bagged the city franchise in the Indian Super League (ISL), set to kick off in September.
Shah Rukh lost out.
Sourav, however, has chosen to be gracious — something which came through during his brief interview with The Telegraph this evening. Excerpts follow:
Q: You’re now a co-owner of a soccer franchise.... Your thoughts?
A: There’s excitement... This is something new for the three co-owners from Calcutta and we’re looking to put our best foot forward. A new venture has challenges.
Q: Two of the co-owners — Harshavardhan Neotia, Sanjiv Goenka — and you go back a long way. There’s plenty of bonding, then.…
A: Absolutely.… I couldn’t have gone ahead on my own. I’m glad that Harsh, Mr Goenka and Utsav Parekh are on board.… As also Atletico de Madrid. We’ll have fun and probably end up losing some money!
Q: But why Atletico de Madrid and not any other leading club, possibly from the UK?
A: First, Atletico de Madrid showed interest in the ISL and, second, the club is an institution in Europe. Right now, Atletico de Madrid are table-toppers in the Spanish La Liga. They’ll be bringing plenty to the franchise, particularly on the technical side.
Q: There was a time when soccer was your passion, not cricket. What exactly will your role be in the franchise?
A: We’ve just won the bid. Give us time to sit down and work out the specifics.
Q: Is there one player you’d love to turn out for your franchise?
A: I do have favourites, but there’s no point taking any name, for availability will matter. Also, we’ll have to follow the Fifa rules and regulations. At this early stage, I’m not sure how we’ll be getting the players. Let’s wait for clarity.
Q: Diego Maradona remains your all-time No. 1….
Q: Has the team’s name been decided?
A: Not yet.
Q: Surely, you must have looked at options.
A: We’re sober people, so the name will be sober, not very loud!
Q: Finally, Shah Rukh’s bid wasn’t successful. Are there words of comfort from you for the face of KKR, your first franchise in the IPL?
A: I’m not aware whether Shah Rukh bid or not. However, from my side, I’ll say that Shah Rukh is as much a part of the franchise as I am. Of course, I’m speaking on my behalf only.… Shah Rukh’s passionate about sport, something I recognise.