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Fans let Chennai football down

The advent of the Indian Super League opened up avenues for football crazy fans of the city to embrace their favourite sport. Chennai, known as cricket crazy city, welcomed Chennaiyin FC with open arms and the club, over the last three years, has built a strong and loyal fan base.

Fans let Chennai football down
Handful of Chennai City fans during one of the I-League match in Chennai


Official fan clubs, theme songs became the norm as Chennaiyin FC enjoyed a cult status in the city. Fans braved natural calamities – floods and cyclones — and flock to the Nehru Stadium in droves to support Chennaiyin FC. A section of fans even named themselves B-Stand Blues, on the lines of Bengaluru FC’s West Block Blues and became an instant hit with players and officials. 

In 2017, Chennai City FC, a senior division team in the Chennai Football Association senior division league, won their bid and entered the I-League, the country’s premier domestic competition. However, from the fans front it wasn’t rosy as Chennai City had to play in empty stadiums, a sharp contrast to what the city fans looked to offer for football. 

Chennai City played five matches till date — three home and two away amidst a handful of fans. It looked like fans were also attracted to the glamour and glitz rather than the game. With the tickets priced at only Rs 25 when compared to the Rs 200 to Rs 2,500 range in the ISL, the fans have been a  let-down for the club. Fans, however reasoned out the low turnout of to two reasons — bad marketing and lack of star power. “There was literally no promotion done in the city nor where Chennai City FC projecting their star players to the already existing football fan base in the city,” said Jeni Sha, a Chennaiyin fan. 

The ISL and I-League merger could come as a blessing in disguise for a league to sustain from the fans’ point of view. “When the merger happens in the future it would somewhat be like a Manchester Derby or the Derby di Milano. We want to show our allegiance to Chennaiyin as it was the first big break the fans city has had,” said Vinod Ramnath of B-Stand Blues. 

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