Pune FC Co-Founder Nandan Piramal Dreams Big For The Club & Indian Football

The 20-something businessman has big things planned for the Pune outfit...
Pune FC have been making quite an impression since the season began, and currently lie seventh in the league, while winning plaudits for the way they function as a club, with all players and coaching staff at the club singing praises for the administration.

The Piramal Group is the driving force behind the club, and their 28-year old Director Nandan Piramal believes that the potential in Indian football is huge, but clubs all over the country will need to take some bold decisions.

Speaking to the-afc.com, Piramal said, "Indian football has a lot of potential. I think the clubs can play their part by setting up long-term targets and thinking broader.

"They won't improve if they opt to solely depend on the association's funding year after year. Indian football will also suffer as a result."

The young businessman admitted that it's easier said than done, but he hoped Pune FC would set an example which clubs all over India could follow, and act as a leader in the football movement in the country.

"We have set a six to seven year plan for the club. We want to mount a serious challenge for the I-League title besides playing an influential part in changing the face and mentality of Indian clubs.

"Football is a business nowadays. You need to run it like a business and need to be economically viable.

"We are rich but we are not throwing money away without purpose. You can always make money with anything, including football", he added.

The Piramals are a renowned business group in India. Nandan Piramal is the late Ashok Piramal's son, the man who owned the Ashok Piramal Group. Pune FC was co-founded by Nandan along with his brothers Harsh and Rajeev, both of whom are in their thirties, as well as four other friends who are based in Europe. The company deals in real estate, textiles, automobiles among other sectors.

Elaborating on this vision for Indian football, and how youth and passion for the game is driving Pune FC, Piramal explained, "With due respect to old hands, we know what we are doing. We are young and passionate and we are trying to do something different in India to help Indian football.

"What we are going to implement in the future is not something new as in Europe, and especially England, has a successful football system for everyone to see."

One heartening fact about Pune's stint in the league this season has been that their fans have been superb, and have attended all home games in large numbers. The atmosphere at the Balewadi Sports Complex has been second to none in the league, and it probably boils down to Pune having control over their ticketing. In fact, they are only one of two clubs (Other being Lajong), to sell their own tickets.

"We also sell our merchandise and set up our own ticket kiosks. Almost everything is done by us. We want to have our own revenue.

"All our matches are played at 6.30 in the evening in floodlights, as we lose spectators if we keep them earlier. If possible, I would also like to play on weekends, unlike every weekday.

"If we want to be really professional, we cannot ignore even a single detail."

Pune currently play their home games at the Balewadi Sports Complex, and have set up their own training ground near the Mumbai-Pune highway at Mamurdi, and Piramal admits that building their own stadium is part of their long term plan.

"In three to for year's time, after we establish ourselves, we can start thinking about building our own stadium.

"We have on average 6000-8000 spectators for every game. Considering the fact that we are a new club and a have a full house capacity of 12000, this figure is very good."

Piramal then spoke about his dream for the club when it comes to the business side of things.

"Now, Pune FC's principal sponsors is the Ashok Piramal Group's flagship company, Peninsula Land Limited, and co-sponsors Morarjee Textiles Ltd fund the club's various activities at senior and youth level.

"When other corporations come to negotiate and fight to be our sponsor, I can say we have arrived.

"Trophies are important for the club but the bigger picture is the general improvement of Indian football. We must work together to make it better"
, he signed off.

For the sake of Indian football, we only hope that his dreams are fulfilled, and that it leads to many other such businessmen and entrepreneurs taking up the cause of Indian football, and propelling it forward.