Viva Kerala rechristened as Chirag United Kerala
Kolkata: The lone current I-League football club from South India, Viva Kerala, will now be known as Chirag United Kerala following merger with Kolkata-based Chirag United Sports Pvt Ltd on Saturday.
Chirag computers owner Kaustuv Roy told reporters that the company was now the majority stake holder in the Kerala outfit.
Despite the acquisition by a Kolkata-based company, the team would have Kerala as home as the All India Football Federation did not allow five I-League teams from a single city.
Kolkata already has Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Prayag United SC and Pailan Indian Arrows.
Chirag United Kerala, which will be based in Kannur, will have Subrata Bhattacharya as its technical director, while Unnikrishnan will remain as the coach of the team that finished 10th in the I-League 2010-11.
"Keeping in mind of the people`s sentiment in Kerala, we have chosen the name. The core of the team will be from the earlier Chirag United SC as we have a two-year contract with 21 players. We are confident of a good show in the I-League," Roy said.
"We have a few foreigners in mind and we will recruit them soon. For the first year, it will be based in Kerala but we want to make Kolkata our home base."
He said the team would train in Kolkata ahead of their preparation for Federation Cup, IFA Shield and Durand Cup.
"We have requested the sports minister (Madan Mitra) to allow us to use Kalyani Stadium for our residential camp." P Bhaskaran, the secretary of the Kerala outfit, said the home matches would be held in Cochin, but during the Ranji Trophy they would have to shift base to Trivandrum.
"We are really happy that we have found a good friend here. It`s really a good sign when everything has become cricket-centric. With the association, I am sure the club will improve their last season`s finish," Bhaskaran said, adding that the team will be affiliated with the Kerala Football Association.
With the latest acquisition, city-based companies are becoming owners of beleaguered football clubs when no large corporate house was coming forward to support the sport.
Chirag Computers had been the sponsors of United SC, better known as Chirag United SC, for over four seasons.
But Chirag parted ways after its owner Kaustuv Roy fell out with the management of United SC who now have struck a five-year deal with Prayag Group.
Earlier, the Pailan Group had come forward to support AIFF`s development side Indian Arrows that led to the team`s shifting base from New Delhi to Kolkata.
United SC after its fallout with Chirag Computers have found a new sponsor in Prayag Group and will now be called Prayag United SC.