19 Oct 2017
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Mumbai City FC eyes revenue growth of 20–25%; optimistic about a longer league

MUMBAI: Indian Super League (ISL) franchise Mumbai City FC, co-owned by Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor and chartered accountant Bimal Parekh, is targeting revenue growth of 20–25% in this edition of the league.

Mumbai FC CEO Indranil Das Blah said that growth would come from sponsorships. “We have just announced the Ace Group as our title sponsor for one year. We are looking to have six to eight associate sponsors and partners for this season,” he told TelevisionPost.com.

Indranil Das BlahThe reason for doing one-year deals is that next season the ISL will run for five months. “From next season the plan is to have more matches over the weekend. We will have to sit down and figure out the ramifications of this from a cost and revenue perspective. Costs will go up as players will be playing for a longer period of time. Accommodation costs might also rise, but I believe that revenues will also go up. Any sports league runs for at least five to six months. The move to play for five months will allow brands to plan activation and leverage our franchise better. We will be much better off with a longer season,” Blah said.

He added that in 2018 the plan would to run the league for seven months after the ISL and i-League merge. “There is no break in the cricket season. There is constant international cricket. Other sports like soccer do not have that when it comes to Indian players. The IPL offers a unique format during a very busy cricket season.”

Central revenue is also seeing some growth. He maintained that the Mumbai City FC franchise would break even in the seventh or eighth season.

As far as players are concerned, Blah is excited about Diego Forlan joining for this season. “He is a big name and a Manchester United legend. Manchester United has the largest fan following in the country among soccer clubs. We will also be playing in a new venue Andheri Sports Complex. While DY Patil has a larger capacity, it was too far away and disconnected from the heart of the city. For a person to attend a match there he/she would have to leave work at 4 pm. Then by the time the person returned home, it would be midnight,” he explained.

Mumbai-City-FCThe plan is to not tinker too much with ticket prices so that the franchise can stay close with fans. “We are not fighting with the EPL. Our message to soccer lovers is to watch the likes of Ronaldo but to also watch one’s own club. The aim is to build loyalty, and there is an incentive for fans to support a homegrown club though the quality of football may not be the greatest,” he said.

He noted that the merger of the ISL and i-League would mean that ISL franchises could do activities during the off-season. Right now they cannot as players play the ISL and then go play in the i-League.

“In the first season the players and the coaches were not sure what to expect. But the quality of play has been going up year on year. This has given them the confidence to think that the ISL can be a boost to their careers. Players who have been there and done that are interested in the ISL. We are seeing coaches do multi-year deals with teams. Unfortunately, at Mumbai we have had a different coach each season, but we are confident that things will work out with the current coach,” Blah said.

The learning for him from the two seasons includes keeping the fans happy. “The viewership is 12–45 years for the ISL. Since soccer is the world’s most popular sport, the viewer spread is larger compared to fight sports and basketball. With sponsors we go beyond deliverables. We don’t take them for granted.”

Blah is confident that hockey and badminton will find their footing while kabaddi (PKL) continues to grow. “The badminton league should be doing much better. The organisational issues have been sorted from what I can gather. Earlier you only had Saina Nehwal performing well. Now you have more players like PV Sindhu. Hence, viewer interest will grow.”