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Soon to be appointed general manager of Mahindra United, Henry Menezes opines that with most clubs having become commercial entities, it’s time that the government and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) provide them with the business platform to help them grow further...

In the last few weeks, there’s been a lot spoken about the current state of Indian football and how to take it forward. Indian national team coach Bob Houghton recently stated that clubs in India must be forced to spend money to have their own training fields. Henry Menezes, who has been involved as a manager at various levels at the club level, feels that the clubs in India are doing enough within their limits.

“If you include the budget of all the 14 teams in the I-League, roughly it’s about Rs.60 crores, which is much more than what the AIFF spends. It’s the clubs who are bringing so much value to the game and within their limits are doing the best.

“The clubs wants to grow and sustain themselves commercially being a commercial entity. Now the question is what opportunities are given to us to fulfil this dream?” questioned Henry.

The former Indian goalkeeper agreed with Bob Houghton’s remarks on the Indian sports minister, M.S.Gill by retorting as to what he has done for the beautiful game except for those ‘look down upon’ statements.

“I agree with Houghton’s answer to Gill that what he has done for the game. I feel what David (Booth) also mentioned is true that one can’t just sit back and criticize the existing system.

“It’s also shameful that we don’t have a venue for the team to prepare for the Asian Cup,” said Henry.

Lack of sponsorship in Indian football is often been touted as one of the major problems faced and the solution to this could be the key in taking the game in the country to another level, according to many.

“When you speak of sponsorship, the first question is what value are you giving? The marketing people would fail to find anything. What do you get if sponsor? 14 boards on the grounds which are not up to the mark anyways!

“The matches are shown at 3.30 -4 pm, which doesn’t help. The prime time slots have to be reserved for the matches. The entire fanbase concept is to provide an experience to the fan and we need to cater to that, and for that we need some help,” pointed Henry.

The former Mumbai FC general manager believes that the trio of the government, AIFF and the clubs have to work together.

“You think that the corporate houses in India aren’t aware of the following football has in India. They are waiting for the right environment which can be facilitated by the government and the AIFF. The clubs are eager to develop but need the support of the other two bodies.”

Henry feels that once the stadiums are built, they can be used for other events as well which shall help reap profits which can then again be invested in the game.

“Look at the Wembley Stadium. They have concerts and what not when the matches are not being played and it’s the official ground of the English national team. They key here is to have a business module.

“You can hold an international match and all your problems are solved. We have to think along the lines of a ROI (return on investment) model.

“In Mumbai, we have more than four cricket stadiums or white elephants I must say. Where are the sporting events happening there? The international games are held once in two or three years at these venues. They have their club memberships which keep things going and help them sustain.

“What I suggest is that if the government can lease out lands to the clubs to develop the infrastructure for football, then there’s a way forward. It can be used for other events and thereby, gain profits,” said Henry. 

Rahul Bali.

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