Reluctant casino tycoon Mody bets big on FC Goa

Panaji: Textile tycoon Jaydev Mody -- known for his glitzy offshore casinos in Goa and his thoroughbred horses in elite derby circles -- has made another big bet on FC Goa. Mody, who admits of not being used to popular attention, said on Thursday that this season he wanted nothing short of a title win for FC Goa, the Indian Super League club in which he recently picked a 65 per cent stake. Speaking to IANS on the sidelines of his formal unveiling as the new majority stakeholder of the FC Goa, Mody said he was happy being the unsung boardroom quarterback and willing to give his all to ensure that the team reached the ISL summit in Season 3. "I can't advise Zico on how to strategise but I must provide all the tools to the team and him to show that we have a shot at the title. Nothing short of it? Nothing short of it," Mody said. When asked if he was used to the attention showered on him thanks to his high-profile football foray, Mody said: "Not really no. I'll stay as far back as possible. This is it. Now it is Zico (FC Goa head coach) and Sukhi (FC Goa CEO Sukhvinder Singh) and the team who will run the club. I will provide the support." Mody, for several years now, has been the reclusive powerhouse behind Goa's casino industry. His company Deltin Group operates three offshore casinos in the state. Despite his close association with top politicians, Mody has studiously avoided public glare, he told IANS at Villa Marina, the venue of Thursday's conference located in Nerul village where he owns several properties. Not known to smile easily, Mody, however, was cool personified. Although he was reluctant to respond to queries about the numerous controversies which dog the casino industry. "I love Goa and people don't know it. I am very low key and therefore they don't know this, but I am as Goan as the others," a defiant Mody said when asked about popular resentment against the casino industry. "I have been living here for 25 years. Most of my time I spend here. I have a business here. I have investment here. I love to be here. I have a home here which I bought 25 years ago, not thinking I am going to get into one business or the other," he said. When asked if his football venture would help tide over the criticism which the casino business has attracted in Goa and help boost his public profile, Mody said it was not right to link his new sporting pursuit to his businesses. "I don't know. I am not even thinking about that frankly. I am not trying to merge any of my business with this. I am in the textile business, but it's not relevant to football and I am in other businesses which are not relevant. So this is football and we will focus on football and we will do every thing for football," he told IANS. Reacting to the recent criticism of his taking over the reins of the Goa-based club by Opposition MLAs, who claim that Goans should have been given the opportunity to buy at least a 25 per cent stake in FC Goa, Mody said: "The whole of Goa is a stakeholder. It is 100 per cent Goa, why 25 (per cent). I am saying the whole team is of Goa. Who is behind it, who is in profit or loss is not relevant at all." Mody believes that FC Goa is a "strong brand" and has a resonance in the state which is known for its passion for the "beautiful game". "FC Goa is a strong brand. In Goa every home supports FC Goa. Your team will perform well and all of us will work hard to ensure that your team wins," the casino tycoon said in a message to his fans. IANS