Kolkata: Sanjiv Goenka has bought out Atletico Madrid’s stake in ATK, the team that was formerly known as Atletico de Kolkata and was launched in 2014 to represent Kolkata in the annual Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament.
But following the separation, it is not clear whether the team can use its former name, Atletico de Kolkata. In the last season of ISL, it went by the name ATK.
Atletico Madrid had a 25% stake in Kolkata Games and Sports Pvt. Ltd—the company behind ATK—from the time of its launch in 2014 when Goenka, the chairman of the RP-Sanjiv Goenka group, and a bunch of other Kolkata-based businessmen secured the Kolkata franchise of ISL through competitive bidding.
Former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly has a substantial minority stake in ATK and continues to be its face, but the other businessmen who had started the ISL franchise—real estate developer Harshavardhan Neotia and investment banker Utsav Parekh—have stopped providing funds after their initial contributions towards setting up the ISL franchise.
Both Neotia and Parekh said they remained invested in ATK but had only a negligible stake. Goenka confirmed that he had taken over Atletico Madrid’s stake in ATK “sometime last year". The partnership failed because of inherent deficiencies in the agreement between the La Liga club and the Indian shareholders, he added.
Asked about the change of name, he said it was due to some restrictive covenants in the agreement.
Atletico Madrid did not reply to an email seeking its response. Atletico had come to India with plans of setting up a football academy jointly with Goenka and the other shareholders of Kolkata Games and Sports.
As the principal shareholder, Goenka has taken the reins of ATK, which in the last season of ISL finished ninth among 10 teams, winning only four matches out of 18. ATK has won the title twice.
Goenka remains bullish about football and is currently looking to rebuild the team.
For a limited period, Goenka had taken interest in cricket as well. He secured the Pune franchise in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Goenka’s Rising Pune Supergiants played in two editions of the IPL—2016 and 2017—and finished the second one as runners up.
Asked if he was looking to get back into cricket, Goenka said no IPL franchise was immediately up for sale. “It was an opportunity to work with some interesting people," Goenka said, referring to cricketers such as M.S. Dhoni and Steve Smith who played for his team.
From last year, Goenka has taken interest in table tennis—he brought a franchise in the Ultimate Table Tennis league. He said he was now looking to launch a new league, but did not divulge details.