Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan, who is the co-owner of Indian Super League (ISL) side Chennaiyin FC, said he doesn’t mind Bollywood actors being the face of football in the country, as long as it aided in attracting huge crowds to the grounds.
“If I need to use my face to use whatever little stardom I have to help develop Indian football then I am ready to do it. I am not hijacking anything on the field. End of the day people, come to watch the players and not Abhishek Bachchan,” said the actor, who was responding to a query on ace-shooter Abhinav Bindra’s tweet pointing out the overbearing presence of Bollywood during ISL’s opening ceremony.
No Mendoza, no problem
Bachchan also said he expects Chennaiyin to do well this season even without influential midfielder Elano and striker Stiven Mendoza in its ranks.
“We won’t be able to replace Elano and Mendoza from a sentimental point of view. They were with us since the beginning and were instrumental in winning the title last year. But from a positional point of view, we have to adapt.
“Marco (Materazzi) is playing a different system this year. We have managed to plug the void left by them. This year we have a better team and the team is more complete now. Someone like John Arne Riise is a wonderful asset to have. He spends a lot of time with the young kids. Hans Mulder has lots of experience playing in the ISL too,” he said.
“Being defending champions always helps you with your commercial partners though I can’t comment on them because we are contractually bound. We launched our merchandise sales today and it was something we needed to work on. The merchandise market is in its nascent stage and there is a lot of counterfeiting. But you had to make a start somewhere and we have taken that plunge”, said Bachchan.
League merger the way forward
The actor, who is a big football enthusiast and huge fan of Premier League side Chelsea FC, also said he agrees to the three-tier football league proposed by AIFF and that merging ISL and I-League was the best way to go forward.
“The football leagues need to merge and make it one big league which has multiple tiers in it. That is the way to improve football. I am not worried about attracting talent. These players are professional. If they know they have a guaranteed employment through the year and have a club that loves them, I don’t think any professional who wouldn’t want to come. It will be beneficial to have a longer league,” said Bachchan.