| NEW DELHI
NEW DELHI May 10 Bad experiences with Blackburn
Rovers and Racing Santander will not deter Indian investors from
buying European soccer clubs, experts say.
Poultry giant Venky's became the first Indian owners of an
English Premier League team following their 23-million-pound
($37-million) takeover of Blackburn in November 2010.
The apprehension that greeted them at Ewood Park snowballed
into outrage after the club's relegation from the Premier League
following a 1-0 home defeat to Wigan Athletic on Monday.
La Liga club Racing Santander, who were majority owned by
Indian businessman Ahsan Ali Syed, went into voluntary
administration with debts of more than 33 million euros ($43
million) last year and were relegated last month.
"This is obviously a setback but I don't think it would
demoralise future Indian investors," Bhaswar Goswami, executive
director of sports company Celebrity Management Group, told
Reuters on Thursday, after Blackburn's relegation.
"On the contrary, I think it will actually help them to look
at it from a different angle. It would give them an idea how to
go about the job of running a soccer team.
"There are well-respected corporate houses such as the Tata
Group and Reliance who can do wonders. For companies that want
to do business in Europe, owning a soccer club there is the
easiest and quickest way to establish themselves," he added.
Goswami said Venky's, who critics said controlled the
Blackburn administration from its headquarters in the western
Indian city of Pune, did not have the right people to run the
"Buying a club and running that are two different things.
You badly need people who can run it.
"You need both passion and expertise. I assume they had
passion, otherwise why would they buy a struggling club like
Blackburn? Expertise, well, if you don't have, buy that. You get
it from the market."
Author and journalist Jaydeep Basu echoed Goswami.
"You may not have experience but you can always hire the
right people. Some understanding is a must.
"The problem with them was that they were not embraced by
the people at Lancashire and they did not try to connect with
the Indian fans here either.
"They did not invite any Indian player for trial. They once
offered a junior team (the opportunity) to practise at Blackburn
but backed out at the last minute."
Basu praised the example of the Force India Formula One team
which has Indian chief stakeholders in Kingfisher chief Vijay
Mallya and the Sahara Group.
"Force India really made the effort to connect with Indian
fans and managed to create that sense of attachment which did
not happen with Blackburn.
"I think still Venky's got a lot out of Blackburn. It's a
household name in England now, so what if for the wrong
($1 = 0.6212 British pounds)
($1 = 0.7733 euros)
(Editing by Clare Fallon)
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