Liverpool to set up football academies in India, beyond

2011-08-24 13:34

New Delhi – Liverpool will open academies in India in an initial bid to reach out to fans in Asia and ultimately beyond.

The first academy in India will be set up in New Delhi in October with former England and Liverpool midfielder Steve McMahon as the chief coach, the club announced today.

Liverpool’s International Football Academy chief Steve Turner said the club was aiming to set up similar academies in China next, and explore possibilities in North America, South America and Southeast Asia.

“We want to have footprints in every continent in the next three years,” Turner said. “We want to take our academies to as many parts of the world as possible.”

McMahon said he saw tremendous scope for the game in India.

“Of course, cricket is the main sport but we also get many millions of viewers from here. Almost 90% of Asians support either Liverpool or Manchester United according to TV ratings, which is a lot,” he said.

India is seen as a growing market since the advent of satellite television. Liverpool archrival Manchester United has run school coaching programmes in the past, and sold rights to run pubs on the club’s theme.

Money has also started to flow into the game in this cricket-crazy country of 1.2 billion, with the All India Football Federation recently signing an unprecedented contract for popularizing football.

IMG-Reliance – a partnership between IMG Worldwide and Indian company Reliance Industries Ltd – signed a 15-year, $140-million (R1-billion) deal last year for all commercial rights to football, aiming to promote and market it.

The immediate attraction for football fans is a friendly between Argentina and Venezuela in the eastern city of Kolkata on September 2.

Blackburn Rovers is also expected to play a rescheduled game in the western city of Pune later this year after its Indian owner, Venky’s, was forced to cancel a game last month over security fears following bomb blasts in Mumbai. 

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