Dubai: Rajen Kilachand, the chairman of Dubai-based conglomerate Dodsal Group, which owns Indian second tier side Mumbai Tigers FC, has confirmed his intention to bid for an I-League franchise in next month’s auction.
The All India Football Federation (AIFF) is accepting bids to replace Mumbai-based clubs Air India and ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) next season after the latter state-owned sides were barred for failing to meet AFC (Asian Football Confederation) licensing criteria regarding commercial viability.
The Tigers, who are currently second in the final round of the I-League second division, two points behind Mohammedan Sporting with four games remaining, were only formed last May but have already shot to fame after reaching the final of the Durand Cup.
A successful bid estimated to start at $36.8 million (Dh135 million) would guarantee a club a five-year stay in the I-League’s top tier, provided they build a stadium and an academy. The Tigers, who are currently nomadic, are now planning to construct a combined facility in New Mumbai.
Kilachand told Gulf News: “Of course, we are bidding. We have two choices, to ignore this route and play out the remainder of the second division, or, if accepted, we don’t have to go through this process. Because if we don’t make top two in the second division this season, we would have to wait a whole year again to go up.”
Asked if he was concerned by being outbid by other private-sector investors, Kilachand said: “I’ve no idea about the others. I focus on what I want to do and I’m as serious as serious can be. We’ll give it our best shot and see what happens.”
The Tigers made headlines last year when Emirati CEO Mohammad Omar, a former UAE Gulf Cup and Al Ain Asian Champions League winner, confirmed interest in signing former Manchester United and Arsenal defender Mikael Silvestre.
Kilachand now denies the transfer attempt and waves off a big-name signing strategy. “We never asked him [Silvestre]. This is a figment of his imagination.
“We don’t need big names we need good players, if the name happens to be big then fine. But frankly I’m appalled at so called big names, who are good players, but I think it’s haywire the amount of money these guys are paid and you cant tell me these guys are the only party in town.
“My philosophy is to combine players from Africa, the GCC and India because at the end of the day the next 1,000 years of the planet belong to everything in this part of the world – the party in the West is over. The future Beckhams are all going to be here and the future is not 20 years from now it’s two years down the road.”