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India gets taste for Premier League

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Matt Slater | 11:22 UK time, Saturday, 20 November 2010

Are you spitting feathers about the poultry sum an Indian chicken company has paid for those cocks of the north, Blackburn Roosters, or do you want me to stop scratching around and get on with it?

I am guessing it's the latter so no more yolks, sorry, they're not funny and this story deserves better because it signifies the end of one era and beginning of another, for the club, the Premier League and possibly the Indian subcontinent.

OK, that last statement is a bit OTT but news that an unheralded, family-run business from India has just bought a founding member of both the Football League and its mega-bucks off-shoot, the Premier League, tells us something significant about that region and our own.

India's burgeoning middle-classes are not only beginning to share western appetites for delicacies like chicken nuggets (a trend Venky's knows well), they are also devouring televised sport. Cricket and Formula One have already witnessed the emergence of private Indian wealth, football is next.

That, however, does not answer three big questions: Why Venky's? Why Blackburn Rovers? Why now? The last of those is the easiest and goes some way to answering the second, so let's start there.

The Lancashire giants won their sixth FA Cup in 1928 and then...didn't do a great deal for almost 70 years. Relegated from Division One in 1966, Rovers would spend the next 26 years trying to return without ever really convincing they would make it.

And then everything suddenly became so much easier.

Jack Walker, a local boy made very good, started to invest his steelworks millions in his hometown club. At first, it was a loan here and a contribution there, but by the end of 1991 he was in charge and money was no longer an issue.

It might seem a piffling sum in today's Abu Dhabi/Russian oligarch era but £25m was invested in the likes of Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, and manager Kenny Dalglish was given free rein and open chequebook to win silverware. He did not disappoint. Promotion was secured in 1992 and three years later Rovers hit the jackpot, Premiership glory.

The years since then have been less dramatic. There was a relegation in 1999 and a promotion in 2001, but it is Walker's death in-between that is most significant in terms of Rovers' history. A canny businessman, Walker had already transferred his wealth to tax-efficient Jersey and his final move was to place his Rovers shares in the family trust.

But with Jack not about, the Walker support ceased to be unconditional. Never blessed with the huge crowds or marketing muscle of many of their rivals, Rovers required regular subsidy, and by 2007 the trustees of the Jack Walker Settlement Trust had decided it was time to cut the cord.

In some ways, the biggest surprise is it took the trust and its investment bank advisor, Rothschild, three years to sell a solid Premier League club with relatively tiny debts and a fit-for-purpose stadium.

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But Rovers, like so many other clubs, have had their share of timewasters. Finding the "right buyer" was also perhaps more important to this seller than is always the case.

So is the Rao family, the dynasty behind Venky's and its parent company the VH Group, that buyer? The only fair answer at the moment is that the people who Walker left in charge of his affairs certainly think the Indians are right for Rovers.

Paul Egerton-Vernon, the trust's chairman, said he was "very pleased" to be handing over to the Raos, and John Williams, Rovers chairman, praised the "determination and enthusiasm" of the new owners. And well he might, he is going to be working for them until at least next summer.

But his presence is not the only concession to tradition. Contained within Venky's 19-page offer document (most of which is for the benefit of the owners of the 7,000 shares the trust did not own, shares worth a whopping £1,245 in total) are a number of other continuity pledges.

First, there is the time-honoured commitment to the existing coaching staff (and Sam Allardyce could not have been more fulsome in his welcome to the Raos), then there is the promise to maintain Rovers' community programmes, and finally there is a pledge to look after Walker's statue and not rename his stand without trust permission.

What's really interesting, however, is the new stuff - a bigger push on the commercial side, "brand awareness" in Asia and improvements to the club's media platforms - and that answers the "why Venky's" question.

The Raos are not the Abu Dhabi royal family or another Abramovich. They're possibly not even a Whelan from nearby Wigan. But they are on the up.

When this deal was first mooted last month there was some wildly inaccurate reporting of their wealth, largely because of a western unfamiliarity with the Indian "numbers" the crore and lakh: rogue zeroes appeared to raise giddy expectations in east Lancashire. The truth is Venky's is just the publically-traded part of the family's VH Group. Its profits last year were about £10m on turnover of £100m. Not bad but nowt special.

Numbers for the rest of the company are harder to come by - a best guess is a turnover of £300m or so - but the ambition is clear. Already India's biggest chicken firm, VH Group is diversifying and opening businesses from Bangladesh to Switzerland. With a Premier League club to their name now, the Raos are unlikely to go under the radar ever again.

Will this mean a Walker-style shopping spree? Probably not. The family's matriarch, Anuradha J Desai, has talked about £5m being made available in January and she was including wages. She also discussed "leasing players", so the loan market might be Big Sam's high street.

But this brings in a relatively under-reported part of the deal. Mrs Desai's brothers Balaji and Venkateshwara are the football fans in the family - and have spent Rao money on sponsoring India internationals - but they are not experts. They will be guided at Blackburn not only by the existing board but also by football marketing firm Kentaro and player-agent partner the Sports Entertainment and Media Group (SEM).

The involvement of these two firms gives Rovers access to an international network of agents, clubs and scouts. Add that to the prospect of turning India into a nation of Blackburn fans (easier said than done, admittedly) and you have got quite a proposition. Not bad for £23m in cash to buy the shares and £20m or so to clear the debt.

The passing of the Walker era, and the security it provided, is undoubtedly a time for reflection at Ewood Park, but what happens next will not be boring.

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  • Comment number 1.

    You get the feeling Blackburn could be onto something here if they manage to gain a sizable support from the Indian sub-continent. Then again it'll take success on the pitch to gain more fans off it, which would then lead to more success on it so it won't be so easy.

  • Comment number 2.

    I am from India and 70% of football fans support United.

  • Comment number 3.

    im from india too.. we do have a sizeable chunk of Utd supporters, but then again there is another sizeable chunk of ppl supporting Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool - the Big Four.. it is definitely going to take results on a consistent basis to win over indian fans.. if Venkys gets the Blackburn team with Big Sam to tour India then that will be a huge hit.. we love the premier league and its just a question of time.. I think this move only has positives for Blackburn.. the owners said 5million so that ppl dont start jumping the guns.. im sure there will be money when its needed for Big Sam..

  • Comment number 4.

    No offence to the buyers but isnt the point of a trust so that ownership is stable and continuous?
    This seems like selling a building society and turning it into a bank, and we know how that ended.
    Rovers have income X so if the spend income X-£10 they will never go bust. They are never going to be Man U. In my opinion the trustees have failed in their duty, i.e. trust, i.e. not to cash in themselves.

  • Comment number 5.

    U14679372, whilst I realise your figure of 70% was probably plucked out of thin air, I have no doubt that a sizeable proportion of Indian football fans support United. And I bet a sizeable proportion of those have never been within a thousand miles of Manchester. So why are they United fans? Well, United's success will be a factor, but another factor is United's 'exposure'. And it is that exposure that will, if the new Rovers owners play the game cannily, help propel Rovers on the Indian subcontinent, which can only be a good thing for a very small, humble club based in a small town in northern England...

  • Comment number 6.

    Although I'm a Rovers fan and season ticket holder, I must correct your blogger's error - Blackburn Rovers won their sixth and last F A Cup final in 1928 and as much as I'd like the records to show seven wins the total remains at six

  • Comment number 7.

    At 13:01pm on 20 Nov 2010, thebenster wrote:
    "In my opinion the trustees have failed in their duty, i.e. trust, i.e. not to cash in themselves."

    You have to remember that the trust is for the Walker family, not Blackburn Rovers. So the trust has to do what is in the best interest of the family, namely realise a good price for the asset (BRFC) held by the trust.

    Acting in Blackburn Rovers' interest above the Walker family's would be a failure of the trustees' duty.

  • Comment number 8.

    In India we don't even get live feed of Blackburn matches, unless they play against one of the traditional big boys. We get to see the Blackburn during the Match Day Highlights at the end of the Day. Hopefully if they get good exposure, it will be a huge task creating a fan base. On field success will help the cause immensely.

  • Comment number 9.

    With all the talk of Rovers opening the Indian market, this will take time. And effort.

    As for the football side of things, I don't think that there will be a massive increase in finances available, but I think that, considering the investment, the new owners will look to gradually increase revenue, and thus make more money available season on season. Big Sam will be the man to keep Rovers in their current status for a few seasons (say 2-3), but then I would expect the owners to be looking towards a more, shall we say, attractive manager to open up the viewers more.

    All in all, if Rovers continue to be well run, and the new owners do not cut corners, then they will be players in the Prem. They will never have enough to compete for the title, but they may have enough to gain regular European football in 5 years or so. It is difficult, though, as there are many clubs in better financial states with similar aims - Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Sunderland - and several with more money, but not as big as Utd., Chelsea and Arsenal - Liverpool, Tottenham, Man City. That's 9 teams in better states than Rovers. Keep the feet firmly on the ground, this will take a long time.

  • Comment number 10.

    They are never going to make any significant profit from Blackburn, so this is little more than a self-indulgent extravagance from a wealthy family. Bearing in mind that over 450 million in India are living on less than US$1.25, I would be interested in knowing whether Indian readers feel this is money well spent?

    P.S. For the record, I am Nigeria, and was outraged when I heard of the Nigeria consortium who were interested in buying Newcastle

  • Comment number 11.

    Strange choice of purchase, but I guess £23m is cheap these days. £43 seems pricey, but they can keep some debt going. You're not going to get Everton for that price, and in reality which London club is a good buy at a cheap price?

    But take the EPL payments and a manager who should beable to keep them up and buy cheaply perhaps not so bad a buy.

  • Comment number 12.

    England has seceded the playing field to overseas mercenaries, in some cases for the better, in my cases (especially the national team) for the worse.
    How many Portsmouth FC's do we have to have before we realise we're seceding the boardrooms too, invariably for the worse?
    Why don't English fans wake up and realise that overseas fly-by-nighters are only in it for profit or ego or both?
    If you think money is the panacea for every ill at your club, you're destined for disappointment.

  • Comment number 13.

    Does this mean Rovers get a Chicken for a mascot???
    -Liverpool fan from India

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    They are probably on to something. If you look at the overseas commercial avenues explored by most Premier League clubs, they are all in South East Asia - Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and China. There is a huge middle class base in India, and salary levels while still cheap by UK standards have risen massively. Costs of living again is still much lower leading to more disposable income. Add to the drop in the value of the British Pound, Venky's have saved 15% compared to trying to do this 3 years ago.

    They've made it quite clear that they aren't a sugar daddy with bundles of money but they have only invested a moderate sum and seem to have a business plan of how to exploit commercial opportunities. The buzz surrounding this acquisition will surely give Blackburn a few more airings over on Indian television. They sometimes air upto 8 live games every weekend - assuming the noon Saturday kick-off, two 3pm and the late game. Plus three on Sunday and one on Monday night, plus even if the bulk of India follows the big clubs (Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and lets throw in City and Spurs too), that still gives Indian companies six 90 minute slots to advertise on the hoardings and Blackburn jerseys.

    And why just Indian companies, what is stopping a Vodafone or a Volkswagen of the world (just naming companies that have major presence in India as well as Britain) from exploiting this opportunity.

    Plus all they need to do to attract a bunch of Indian fans is hold a friendly or two against the national team or provide a trial to someone like Sunil Chetri. Maybe sign Michael Chopra (who wont be too expensive but is considering switching nationality to play for India.

    The opportunities are endless, it just remains to be seen how well they can exploit it.

  • Comment number 16.

    I don't see why Indian owners would lead to a sudden number of Indian Blackburn fans. If Bernard Matthews was to buy a franchise in the IPL how many British people would support it?

    Do Fulham have millions of Egyptian fans thanks to Mohammed Al-Fayed's ownership?

    The majority of fans anywhere support the team that wins things, and sadly that won't be Blackburn.

  • Comment number 17.

    10. At 14:24pm on 20 Nov 2010, Redmek wrote:
    They are never going to make any significant profit from Blackburn, so this is little more than a self-indulgent extravagance from a wealthy family. Bearing in mind that over 450 million in India are living on less than US$1.25, I would be interested in knowing whether Indian readers feel this is money well spent?

    P.S. For the record, I am Nigeria, and was outraged when I heard of the Nigeria consortium who were interested in buying Newcastle

    I'm Indian and I dont really think that this makes any difference to most people whether Venky's are buying a British football club. Personally there is no difference in this transaction to Tata Motors buying Jaguar Land Rover and Tetley Tea or Vijay Mallya buying his own Formula 1 team. Its their money and they can spend it however they like.

    People would only complain if it were a publicly funded company spending money in this manner.

  • Comment number 18.

    Like the IPL ( Indian Premier League) money and laundering..

  • Comment number 19.

    They are never going to make any significant profit from Blackburn, so this is little more than a self-indulgent extravagance from a wealthy family. Bearing in mind that over 450 million in India are living on less than US$1.25, I would be interested in knowing whether Indian readers feel this is money well spent?

    P.S. For the record, I am Nigeria, and was outraged when I heard of the Nigeria consortium who were interested in buying Newcastle"
    As Cheshire Indian (#17) pointed out, if some private business organization has money to spend, which they do only if they see some good returns, it does not matter as it is still a business deal. If suppose Venky's spend a lot on advertisement, will you pass the same comment? You will see it as a business deal and so this is. If government spends money on this, then you may have some point, but there too we should take note of the publicity gain (or otherwise), employment generation etc -- like CWG.

    No organization is expected to do charity -- if they do, it is better. But if they don't the counter argument of why they don't do it, does not hold water.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think football is already massive in India.
    Most of them currently support Manchester United
    But in India cricket will always be the No.1 Sport

    Football in India can possibly become another IPL but for football
    If India invests a lot of money in football in India, it will be able to compete with the top football competitions in the world like the english premier league.
    Some football clubs in India can get very popular over time and will be able to buy top class players and become even popular that the current top global football clubs like Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan etc

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    21. At 19:24pm on 20 Nov 2010, papa shango wrote:
    This will get modded but....

    Why is it good they're involved? I don't like these people taking over this country.


    Perhaps because no British person was willing to invest and satisfy the criteria laid out by the trustees?

    As for why it is good that they have gotten involved, they have guaranteed at least a few hundred jobs in Lancashire - not including the playing/coaching staff - but you include the groundskeepers, match day temporary workers, club shop employees, the guy who runs the chippy down the road or the pub round the corner that make loads of money from the fans who come to the game.

    Plus they seem to have promised that they wont stop the community work the club does which is always a good thing.

  • Comment number 23.

    Papa Shango, you are one big racist joke. Who exactly are "theese people"?
    the Vikings, The Romans, The Normans etc etc they all "took over" this country at some stage. You are probably not even of English origin yourself. So grow up and get yor homework finnished before school on Monday.....idiot.

  • Comment number 24.

    My comment looks a bit silly now Papa Shango has had his comments removed. Any way this is a good move for the Club I have supported for years. I think we can all accept we may not be pushing for the title again any time soon.
    What will happen to the bigger clubs when and if the big money investers pull out?

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    The nationality of the owners isn't important as long as they respect the traditions of the club and its importance to the community. However, if they load the club with debt and milk Rovers for as much cash as they can muster then it could be a disaster.

    Here's hoping it is the former.

  • Comment number 27.

    India is the last great frontier for football - the subcontinent is the only heavily-populated part of the world where it is not a major sport. As pointed out earlier, there are ManU fans there, but support for just one club side doesn't make for a good fan environment (where are the rivalries?). I don't know whether the move will be good for Blackburn or for the Raos, but even if it only increases interest in the sport one or two percent in India it will be good news for the sport in Asia as a whole.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    Football could be huge in India, if Blackburn do well, this could be the first drop into the ocean. I hope it triggers domestic investment for India though and not international- football will never trump cricket but it could be huge there. If Chopra represents India maybe he could be the spearhead of an Indian uprising?

  • Comment number 30.

    @3 - Touring India is actually fraught with a lot of problems for a lot of European sides as because as you know pre-season in Europe lies slap bang in the middle of the Indian rainy season. I think a lot of sides would have milked that cash-cow if they could have, just like they have done in swathes across Asia and America.

    I think due to the various logistic problems, India is unfortunately missing out on this interest in the Premier League right now. No doubt, a big English side would draw out 100,000 in Calcutta.

    I am actually more for getting English born Indians involved in football at this level rather than generating interest in India itself. If, the former works out via the latter than it could be an interesting move. Keep in mind, Blackburn, and the North-West in particular does have a sizable Asian population.

    @27 - In the Bengal and Goa regions and also the border states near Nepal and China, football is pretty much the number one sport. Spreading the same feverency westward to Mumbai is the big challenge.

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm from India. Hockey is our national sport. Cricket our religion. Period.

    Any misconceptions that some profit making shrewd Indian businessman buying a tinpot EPL club will suddenly have a billion base football mad fan following in the subcontinent is a total pipe dream.

    Sorry, had to clear that up before the media spins it OTT!

    There's nothing Indian about Rovers.

    Best of luck to the Venkys anyway.

  • Comment number 32.

    It's very sad to see that any success The Riversiders have in the future will be based on slaughtering innocent chickens (doubtless suffering in their millions to satisfy the "tastes" of the emerging Indian middle class).

    Jack Walker and his steel empire was a much more noble financial underpinning.

    Another sorry day for "English" football.

  • Comment number 33.

    @Aarfy_Aardvark (#30):

    Even the states you mention have a population of well over 100 million when added together, I would also throw Kerela in there as football is very popular in that state too. Then you have upper middle class and the young student crowd from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, etc who watch football because it is the cool thing to do and you've instantly got a target market of over 200 million people. For someone who is treating this as a commercial enterprise, that is enough of a new target market. And the initial buzz generated by the takeover will give them enough exposure this year. What they do next year onwards however will be their major test.

    The possibility of touring India does seem unlikely due to the monsoons but its not as if it hasn't been done. Bayern Munich played in India in the month of May. Surely this can be repeated.

    Plus nothing will stop them from inviting the Indian national team to play in Blackburn for a pre-season friendly. That will surely add a bit more to the coffers than say playing Hearts or Huddersfield away. Plus this helps achieve the thing you rightly mentioned as being a key target - getting more British Asians involved, which will ultimately help viewership in India too - more people will follow if a name like Singh or Chopra or Verma were in the Blackburn line-up.

    @billion_plus (#31):

    I don't think even Venky's are expecting that Christopher Samba and Ryan Nelsen will replace Dhoni and Tendulkar from the billboards in Mumbai. They do however have the potential of entering an untapped market with a solid brand (Premier League) backing them. Add to the fact that they play Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool twice each year guaranteed, that is a massive opportunity to sell advertising.

    @The Flying Fox (#32):

    A sorry day? Why is poultry somehow less noble than steel and aviation?

    The problem with English football isn't foreign ownership and foreign players, it is ultimately a problem that lies with professional sport in general. If people pay good money to watch professionals perform, they will expect nothing but the best and in an industry that relies so heavily on the zero sum game, you are opening a very wide door for mercenaries and unscrupulous characters.

  • Comment number 34.

    @ Cheshire Indian

    Poultry production = mass suffering to living creatures
    Steel = blood, sweat and honest toil

  • Comment number 35.

    Blackburn need to follow the al qaeda approach and setup training camps in India for young players. With the size of the Indian population there has to be an Indian Pele somewhere?

  • Comment number 36.

    Afternoon all, thanks for reading/commenting, here are some replies:

    zell182 (1) - Yep, that's the challenge in a nutshell. Will not be easy at all, though, as others have pointed out. I'll say a bit more on that in a moment.

    U146etc (2), satyan (3) et al - I don't doubt if for a minute but I wonder if you're missing the point a bit. For EPL clubs, the "Asian fan" is the new pot of gold at the end of the rainbow/unicorn/Holy Grail/choose your own wondrous thing that is much talked about but never found....yet. Manchester United could have 90% of Indian fans but in actual cash terms their support in somewhere like Birmingham would be more valuable to them at the moment. Why? Because the Brummie Reds buy expensive TV subscriptions, read English newspapers, buy official merchandise and even occasionally go to games at OT. Whenever I've been to an Asian country, including India, I've been amazed at the availability and popularity of English football. But then I haven't seen much official merchandise for sale.

    All that said, English football clubs are starting to monetise the enormous potential value of their brands in Asia. The overseas TV contracts keep rising (and will overtake value of UK one soon if they haven't done so already), clubs are pouring money into their own media/web operations and pre-season tours are now the norm. These trends will only continue and I don't think it's too long before the idea of regular-season games abroad comes back.

    Now I'm not saying Blackburn Rovers are the club that is going to crack this market first (in fact, I'd be surprised if they're in the top five English football teams in India this time next year) but this deal does give them a chance to punch their weight as a solid Premier League side. Obviously, much depends on them staying there. Tours to India are a given, opening an academy there makes sense too, after that who knows. But that's the beauty of a market like India (or China, which Sheffield United of all clubs is pursuing hard), a small following in a massive country is better than a decent following in a small E Lancs town.

    thebenster (4) - I hear what you're saying but I think the problem for the trust is just that your equation would most probably result in relegation and therefore a rapidly depreciating asset. The regular subsidy I mentioned in the piece has been more like £3m a year but even this doesn't tell the full story in terms of the huge amounts Jack Walker & the trust handed to the club in terms of interest-free loans and write-offs. We're talking £100m+ over 15 years or so. It's pretty understandable why the trust, which has obligations to Walker's heirs, decided the time was right to get out of football and do something else with the money, which is, I've just seen, what "ctr-alt-del" (7) has written too.

    Rovergringo (5) - That's the spirit!

    louisrebello (6) - Apologies, rushed research. Looked at a list of FA Cup winners and counted up the winners column. Sadly, the list had one of your 1880s wins in twice as it went to a replay. Oh well, there's always this year for seventh heaven.

    double_seven (8) - I'll be amazed if the Indian EPL broadcasters don't show a few more Blackburn games now.

    Tom (9) - You're right, there are almost definitely at least nine clubs better equipped to win things than Blackburn Rovers but is that so bad? I get the impression that the Raos would take 10th place in the EPL every year until they feel they've gained enough from the association with English football and sell up. I know that's not what Rovers fans want to hear right now but is it really so bad? The Jack Walker phenomenon was very much the exception to the rule both in terms of your post-1930s history and English football in general - most sugar daddies get bored/angry/broke before their teams win anything. The danger for Rovers was that things were drifting back to your historical norm under the trust...relegation was a distinct possibility at some point soon and getting promoted again would be far harder without JW. New owners give you chance to arrest that (admittedly, very gradual) decline and bolster your top-flight position. Proof, as always, will be in pudding though and I have no real idea if Venky's are the right people to pull this off. We'll see, I guess.

    Sorry, wanted to do a few more but I need to sign off.

    Cheers, Matt

  • Comment number 37.

    This is good news for football in India and one more reason to talk about EPL. They have got a good club (one which has won the Premier League) for a relatively paltry sum of money.

    And I should say, eventhough a majority here support the top4(Liverpool & Spurs), they actively follow other teams too.

    Big Sam is enough to gather interests in the subcontinent with his interviews and the team has got a decent set of players who make the headlines regularly.

  • Comment number 38.

    Blackburn fans hoping for a surge in support from South Asia (or anywhere, in fact) need a reality check. There is very clear evidence that Asian people/consumers very much back winners in all of their choices of Western things, be they sport teams or brands generally. So while the Rovers are 'merely' mid-table respectables they stand little chance of attracting further support - only 'brand leaders' stand a chance. This isn't a great state of affairs, but nobody said life is fair.

  • Comment number 39.

    It sounds like the new owners have at least some sort of sensible model of ownership. Jack Walker did great things for Blackburn, if only for that brilliant year when they won the Premiership. I hope that they can run things in a balanced way. The commitment to maintaining community project is an excellent opening sentiment. I hope this is not just initial bluster.

    I am also not sure that an Indian buyer will immediately lead to a huge surge in Indian Blackburn fans but given the small fanbase that they suffer from it seems to make some sense in trying to establish a foothold in overseas revenue sources.

  • Comment number 40.

    I wish them well, but it's not going to be easy. I count seven teams from (old) Lancashire in the Premiership.

  • Comment number 41.

    Venky is a consumer brand...How come no one thinks of venky reaching consumers (food) through would defenitley cost few millions to promote/introduce/publicise a new brand these i guess venky will enter the food market..mayb e biting into 'birds eye' share of conusmers...lets see....however as of having Indian origin..proud to see India going global....''in sport''

  • Comment number 42.

    Hello Matt:

    This is a great article. It is not surprising that India is falling in love with the Premier League. The Premier League has been one of the greatest exports from the UK.

    There are people in every continent who love to hear the Premier League games on the radio, watch them on TV, or see them at a live game. I used to hear the Premier League games in the 1970's when the BBC transmitted the games on shortwave radio.

    Best wishes from a long time BBC Listener in Miami Florida


  • Comment number 43.

    I'm from India and a bolton wanderers fan. Almost all the people here support the top four of the BPL and Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    In my opinion the reason why so many support these teams here is related to two factors. First, is the exposure. Broadcasters only telecast matches of the top four here. They do telecast other games but only if there isn't any other 'big 4' game on.

    Second is the performance of the team. Whenever United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool won a trophy, the section of the population who were new to football at that time, started supporting these teams.

  • Comment number 44.

    Entrepreneurial profiteers, premiership football and the ambition of Sam Allardyce. can the Raos avoid the chaos ?
    Big Sam, is he the favourite to replace Capello or Hughes ?
    3. The ambitition and finance will be tailored to the Fulham model, stay in the premiership and every now and again get lucky and reap the rewards ?
    4. How long before Big Sam departs ?

  • Comment number 45.

    We Indians love watching top class football. The EPL is having a huge following in Goa, Bengal, Kerala and in other football crazy states across the country. Our teams like Dempo Sports Club, Salgaocar's, Churchill Bros, Sporting Clube, Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Mohammedan Sporting, Chirag, JCT, Pune FC and Viva Kerala are leaving no stone unturned to take India to the next level on the international soccer map. The I-League or the India League has been creating plenty of passion for the Beautiful Game at football stadiums in Margao, Mapusa, Vasco, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Ludhiana, Kolkata, Bangalore, Shillong and Kochi. EPL teams are very much appreciated by lovers of football and these teams could think of visiting and entertaining their diehard fans in different towns and cities in our country.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho


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