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City Football Group CEO Ferran Soriano - We are here to unleash the power of Indian football

15:27 WAT 28/11/2019
Txiki Begiristain Ferran Soriano
The City Football Group on Thursday acquired 65 per cent stake at ISL club Mumbai City FC...

Indian Super League (ISL) side Mumbai City FC became the eighth club in the world and the third in Asia to be under the umbrella of the City Football Group (CFG).

The owners of Premier League champions Manchester City announced on Thursday that they have acquired 65 per cent stake at the club. The remaining 35 per cent will continue to be owned by Bimal Parekh and Bollywood superstar Ranbir Kapoor.

After the acquisition of the ISL side, CFG CEO Ferran Soriano said, “We have been looking at the ISL and Indian football for more than 18 months. We have a good view, we believe in the status of Indian football. But now we need to learn about the club. We will meet our colleagues at the club. My colleague Damian is going to be leading our operations in India. In two or three months we will have a plan which will come to effect maybe next season. It will also include a long term plan of how can we help Mumbai City in the next decade.”

Why did you choose India to invest?

Soriano: The first thing is the size of the country and 1.3 billion people. The second thing is that we have visited India in past. Around 15 people from our team visited, I personally watched two matches from the stands and I felt that this is the time to grow. There is a passion, there is talent. The fans that watch the game understand the game. They behave like fans from Europe. There is no doubt that India is going to be a football nation. The only question is if it is going to take 10 or five years.

What made you choose Mumbai City FC?

Soriano: Mumbai is a fantastic city. It feels like New York. In New York, we have been very successful. We started six years ago from nothing and we did very well. I think Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city and I am hundred per cent sure football will be successful in Mumbai.

Will CFG bring any former player or coaches to bring their expertise to India?

As I said we are not here to import anything. We are here to help unleash the power of Indian football. Maybe you don’t realise how much power is already there. There are good players and coaches and we will help them. Help means sharing experiences, sharing technology, inspiring them. That is what we aim to do. Maybe we will bring some people, for sure but ultimately we will unleash the power of Indian football.

ISL has struggled to be profitable, what will you do differently to be profitable?

We want to be profitable. We want to achieve financial sustainability soon. It is a challenge. It has been a challenge in other places. It will mean we will work very hard to generate revenues and also manage our costs. We are not here to lose money. We will try to help the league in general so that everybody makes money including us.

Will there be any grassroots level investment?

Massive, that is our first priority. We want to get kids early. I am going to mention New York again. We started six years ago, bringing the best coaches and coaching methodology to coach kids between 7-9 years old. Now they are 14, 15 and they are winning against European teams. New York City recently won against Real Madrid. So we need to approach the kids early because there are some things in football which you need to learn young.