Sachin Tendulkar will be on the side of Kerala, Sourav Ganguly will root for Kolkata, and it has now emerged that Virat Kohli will be on the football pitch to cheer on Goa. While the participation of the two retired cricket greats in the inaugural edition of Indian Super League (ISL) has created quite a buzz for the new eight-city football tournament, the owners of the Goa franchise are pulling out all the stops to get Kohli on board as the team’s brand ambassador. According to Goal.com, the franchise owned by Shrinivas Dempo, Dattaraj Salgaocar and Videocon Group of Venugopal Dhoot has approached the 25-year old Indian cricket star with an offer to be part of the new league, which is scheduled to kick off on October 12. Team Goa is one of the few franchises which have not yet signed an A-Lister to promote the team, which has tied up with Dempo Sports Club to float a team for the first season.
Tendulkar was one of the early names to be announced in an ISL tie-up as the batting legend was snapped up by Kerala Blasters. Ganguly, the former India captain, is now keenly involved in the setup of Atletico de Kolkata, the Kolkata franchise which has collaborated with Spanish La Liga giants Atletico de Madrid. The ambitious new league will also flaunt its Bollywood star power with film stars Ranbir Kapoor (Mumbai City FC), John Abraham (North East United FC) and Salman Khan (FC Pune City) already part of the bandwagon.
According to sources, Goa franchise’s marketing division, headed by Rahul Raichand, has been in talks with Kohli’s managers for over a fortnight and is hopeful of securing the deal. It is learnt that the two parties have agreed to the terms and the final formalities will be completed soon. The cricketer, who was conferred with the prestigious Arjuna award last September is currently part of India’s squad, which is on a five-Test tour of England. Goa franchise owners Dempo and Salgaocar were unavailable for their comments.
Kohli, often talked about as the future India captain after Mahendra Singh Dhoni quits the game, is the most marketable name in world cricket today. He signed a marketing contract with Nike in 2007, even before his international debut the following year, and remained the most prominent face, ahead of even Dhoni, in their Bleed Blue campaigns. Recently, he was named as the second most marketable athlete in the world by a UK magazine, only behind British Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton. The Delhi dasher was also voted as the Cricketer of the Year by International Cricket Council in 2012. The Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper had guided the India U-19 team to a World Cup win as a teenager, besides also winning the 2011 World Cup as a senior.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that the Goa franchise is negotiating with Steve Clarke and wants to give charge of the team to the former West Brom manager. Team Goa’s earlier bid for Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler as a player-manager was turned down by the organisers and the franchise is now looking to secure the services of the 50-year old coach. It is learnt that the talks are in the final round before the deal is penned.
Clarke’s last job was at West Brom where in 2012-13 season, he took them to their highest number of points in a Premier League season and also went on to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford for the first time in 35 years. He has worked as an assistant manager under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho, Avram Grant, Ruud Gullit, Gianfranco Zola and Kenny Dalglish for some of the famous clubs such as Chelsea, Newcastle United, West Ham and Liverpool.