01 June 2012

High-profile owners unlikely

Photo from Cinesansar.com
The big football news of the day was that of Shah Rukh Khan potentially acquiring a 50% stake in Indian powerhouse side Dempo Sports Club.

Obviously such news immediately gets Nepali football fans dreaming of local corporates and celebrities investing in our own clubs.  Could famed actor Rajesh Hamal make a play for RCT or business tycoon Upendra Mahato start a Roman Abramovich style revolution at NRT?

The quick answer is unlikely. Unless they are truly football ‘pagal’, there are basically only two reasons to invest in a football club – fortune and fame. Neither is really accessible in the current Nepali club football environment.

Fortune

There are four main revenue generators for football clubs – ticket sales, sponsorship, merchandising and TV rights. In the current Nepali football context two of them – ticket sales and TV rights do not really exist (Nepali clubs do not have the authority to sell their own tickets or the TV rights to their matches as everything is centralized with ANFA). Merchandising has limited potential and sponsorship cannot be maximized unless clubs own their own stadium (As they have no rights to hoarding boards, stadium partnerships and hospitality, etc.).

This begs the question, how exactly would a football club plan to break-even? It is not completely impossible but it would require a visionary owner who is willing to make a substantial investment in a club. First and foremost they would need a stadium plan, be it to build a new one or renovate/rent an existing facility as there is absolutely no way a club can be sustainable if they do not have access to ticket revenues.

Fame

One of the big allures of owning a football club is the prestige, networks and perks that come along with it.  Who ever heard of Roman Abramovich or Venkys Group before their takeover of Chelsea and Blackburn respectfully? Today they are hobnobbing with top footballers and have access to many of the most influential businessmen and celebrities around the planet. These are privileges that owning a Premier League club bring.

What exactly would a potential investor get from owning Three Star or Sankata? Dinner with Rohit Chand and Sagar Thapa? Access to Lalit Krishna Shrestha and Indraman Tuladhar?  An exclusive  personal interview in the Kantipur or with GoalNepal? Trust me, just the offer of one plate of MoMo would be enough to secure any of the above benefits. No need to purchase a football club!

So with no fortune and no fame, basically we are left with the third alternative – finding a big-time investor that is absolutely football ‘pagal’ and willing to burn wads of cash on their obsession. Know anyone that fits the profile? 

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