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Indian Football: Manchester City owners strike deal with agency linked to Mumbai City CEO

EXPERT COLUMNIST
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4.41K   //    17 May 2019, 19:42 IST

(Picture for representation)
(Picture for representation)

The City Football Group (CFG), Manchester City's owners, has struck a partnership deal with Indian agency KWANAbler for exploring commercial opportunities in India.

This provides weight to the rumours doing the round that CFG would claim stakes with Indian Super League (ISL) club Mumbai City FC as the latter's CEO Indranil Das Blah is the chief executive of KWAN Sports.

ALSO READ: Signs point to Man City owners buying ISL club Mumbai City

Indranil Das Blah, however, said this particular association is completely different from the talks of CFG acquiring Mumbai City. "This is a commercial venture as far as CFG is concerned and it has nothing to do with them allegedly purchasing Mumbai City FC. My responsibilities with KWAN do not always overlap with my duties as the CEO of Mumbai City," he told Sportskeeda.

This partnership between the two entities is aimed at broadening Manchester City's commercial value through the development of opportunities in the Indian football market.

City Football Group is looking to expand in Asian market in a big way. Currently, the CFG completely owns three clubs - Manchester City, Atlético Torque (Uruguay) and Melbourne City (Australia). It has partially acquired other clubs like New York City (Major League Soccer), Yokohama F Marinos (J-League), Girona (La Liga) and Sichuan (Chinese third-tier).

The talks of Man City owners eyeing the Indian football market first emerged when CFG chief executive Ferran Soriano told reporters in the UK that the group might make an investment in India. In March, Soriano went on to confidently say that CFG would make an investment this year in India. This investment was touted to be a stake in ISL side Mumbai City.

Mumbai City romped to the semifinals of the ISL this season but lost out on the berth in the final to FC Goa. They are coached by Jorge Costa, a former Portuguese international and Champions League winner with Porto. Costa has signed an extension to be part of Mumbai City next season too.

Meanwhile, KWANAbler typically helps overseas businesses involved in sports, media and entertainment enter the Indian market by identifying, planning and driving business opportunities.

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Commenting on the KWANAbler-CFG deal, Indranil Das Blah said in a statement: “India is a country of 1.3 billion people who are passionate about sports, and yet its massive business potential has gone largely untapped to date.

“With the market at an inflection point, the entry of a globally-leading organisation such as City Football Group will spur the Indian sports industry onto the next phase of its evolution.

"We are delighted with this association and have committed KWANAbler’s extensive resources to help City Football Group capture the growing business and talent opportunity that the country represents.”

In a statement, Ravi Krishnan, the chairman of KWANAbler, said the partnership could help the City Football Group develop investment opportunities in the country.

"City Football Group and its progressive strategies have had a huge impact on the evolution of club football.

"It has made significant investments not just in clubs and players across the world, but also in improving the overall sports infrastructure in the regions in which it operates," Krishnan said.

“Associating with such a prominent domain leader is not only an exciting moment for KWANAbler, but also for the larger sporting ecosystem in India.

"We are confident that this one-of-a-kind association will generate lucrative commercial opportunities for Manchester City in India, and will also add another dimension to the country’s emerging sports landscape.”
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