In what would be a treat for thousands of football fans in northern Kerala, Kozhikode has emerged as the preferred city for Kerala Blasters as an alternative to Kochi. As per media reports, Kozhikode might host at least a few of the nine home matches from the next season.
The development comes in the backdrop of an ongoing feud between the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA), the Kochi Corporation and the Kerala Football Association (KFA) on one side, and the team management on the other.
Kerala Blasters is mulling to make Kozhikode its satellite city after it indicated that it has no intention to leave Kerala. Kerala sports minister E. P. Jayarajan had intervened in the matter as reports surfaced saying the ISL team was planning to shift it homeground to elsewhere owing to hurdles faced from the Kochi city administration. The management of Kerala Blasters, along with Kozhikode North legislator A. Pradeep Kumar and Kozhikode mayor Thottathil Raveendran met the minister at Thiruvananthapuram. The minister assured Kerala Blasters CEO Viren D'Silva that the issue would be sorted out.
The plan is to upgrade EMS Stadium to international standards to make it the satellite stadium of Kerala Blasters. The Kerala ISL team has reportedly offered all assistance to rebuild the Kozhikode stadium. A leading Malayalam daily has reported that the team management has even submitted a proposal to renovate the stadium to the minister.
There were reports that the police and other government agencies were working against the interest of the Kerala Blasters team. There were also reports earlier that football enthusiasts were unhappy with the overcharging of food, beverages and packaged water during the ISL matches. Fans were also angered by the seating arrangements at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium where the Kerala Blasters play their home games.