Bundesliga Internationa CEO Robert Klein is focused on investment at the youth level in Indian football and is hoping to execute a long-term plan for the same.
In an exclusive conversation with Goal at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (FICCI) convention on the business of football in India - GOAL 2019, Klein said."We hope to take a long-term view and we are looking very carefully at what the right strategy will be on the ground for us with respect to business to consumer which are the fans. We have the live feed and content of course. The other thing is how do we help Indian football grow so the partnership works both ways.
"We are looking at grassroots projects which would fit into that category where they would be an investment at the youth level. There would be an opportunity for Bundesliga as well but also to bring coaching talents on exchange. So, I would say yes. The longer-term goal is to bring our clubs here
"We understand the challenges of going into key markets and create partnerships like with IMG-Reliance. We then act as the catalyst so that the clubs can come in and have what we hope will be worthwhile conversations whether it is on coach knowledge exchange, stadium building, etc. We are beginning to understand what makes sense for Indian football and then we can translate this back.
Bundesliga will not have it easy, considering the strong reach of the Premier League and the La Liga in the Asian market.
"The way we go about it is that we have set up a company which is solely focused on international markets and key regions. We create a marketing plan year in, year out with a long-term view in terms of what KPI we want to set in terms of fan base but also in terms of commercial success.
Then we work back from that as to what we need to do on the ground week in, week out to achieve those goals. Like the live broadcast, focus on local stars, digital content, influencers and the PR. That combination of being local as well means we will have a constant exchange with the fans and grow awareness. We want to be in the minds and also the hearts of the fans, we want to create that emotional connection," he said.
Robert Klein feels that Bundesliga has not given enough attention to fully utilise and develop the popularity the German league enjoys in India.
"From what we have seen, there has been an increase but not a sharp increase (in popularity in the last few years). It has been relatively slow because I don’t think we have given it the focus and attention it needs. We have to be realistic about the competition which is cricket, Fortnite and other digital games and the media fragmentation.
"So we have to understand the market better. We are now doing extended research which we did not do before so that we have a clear view of what our fan base is. Which are football fans, which are Bundesliga fans and which are avid Bundesliga fans. We call this fan funnel. Once we understand who our fans are and where they are watching, we are then able to address them correctly.
"I would say we are still at the beginning phase but we are very excited because we do see an absolute base for Bundesliga fans and football fans that we think we can speak to and address in a way in which football is meant to be played."