What if the seventh season of Indian Super League was not played behind closed doors?
The Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in sporting activities without fans inside stadiums in most parts of the world. The seventh season of Indian Super League (ISL) is also set to be played behind closed doors in Goa later this year. But what if it wasn’t?
Since the Indian Super League started in 2014, there has always been one clear winner in the category of ‘the biggest crowd-puller’.
Kerala Blasters started their journey by managing to attract more than 50000 spectators per game at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. After the FIFA U-17 World Cup for which the JLN stadium was also a venue, the capacity was reduced and the team also struggled on the field, resulting in smaller turnouts in recent years. But both in the stands on social media, Blasters remained ISL’s crowd-puller.
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But their status will now be tested with the entry of two of the biggest Indian football clubs into the scene. Mohun Bagan have merged with ATK to form ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal’s entry into the ISL has been confirmed by the Chief Minister of West Bengal.
The two clubs, known as the Kolkata giants, and from a region famously known as the ‘Mecca of Indian Football’ will surely change the look and feel of the whole league.
There will be space for social media campaigns because the upcoming season will be played without fans inside the stadium but if it ever a battle for supremacy in terms of the atmosphere inside the stadium, the league would have had a mouth-watering contest on its hands.
A fixture involving any two of Kerala Blasters, ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal would have witnessed a sell-out crowd but unfortunately, the Indian football aficionados will be kept waiting for such an experience.
Last season, in terms of average attendance figures, Blasters were ranked third in the list behind toppers ATK and runners-up Jamshedpur. But with the focus now on TV and OTT (over the top) viewers and strength on social media, Kerala Blasters fanbase have lately become unmatched (if in doubt, do check out the engagement for Kerala Blasters-related posts on social media).
But this was also because fans of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan couldn’t care less about the Indian Super League until recently when the doors were opened. At least next season, neutrals could witness a different winner in polls wherein Kerala Blasters are featured.