This year, the two-year-old Faria Strikers, based in Betalbatim, gate-crashed to the Goa Professional League which boasts some of the most popular Indian football clubs such as Churchill Brothers, Dempo Sports, Salgaocar and Sesa. "We are looking to raise Rs 30 crore by divesting 10% stake in Faria Sports Management. We have received proposals from some investors. This potential investor could be a private equity or someone who can bring strategic value add to our plans," Francis Faria, Owner of Faria Strikers, told VCCircle.
This development comes amidst speculation that Churchill Brothers, owned by Goa's politically influential Alemao family, could also be open to strategic divestment to take advantage of the entertainment possibility around football in the global tourist hotspot. Some of the popular European football clubs, which are looking towards Asian makets to expand their revenue potential, have fancied Goan football in recent past.
Faria, who has built up stakes in Goa's entertainment industry, is a football enthusiast himself. "We are not a contented team like some of our peers, and our target is Asian Football Championship," he said. Faria Strikers topped the Goan First Division football in 2009-10 to storm the professional league.
He said, Faria Sports Management could divest more stake at later date, possibly when the stadium and the sports complex get ready in the next three years. "We could divest up to 40% stake at higher valuations. And, if plans stay on track, we could look at a possible stock exchange listing in future," he added.
Faria Strikers' home stadium project could cost up to Rs 300 crore but might have an asset value of Rs 2,000 crore when completed. "The idea is to make it a football sporting destination," Faria said.
Faria counts naming of stadium and multiple sponsorship avenues as main revenue drivers going forward. Naming of stadiums is popular in the US and the UK and a significant revenue source for professional baseball and football teams. For instance, Arsenal struck a 15-year-deal with Emirates Airlines for naming its home stadium after the Dubai-based airline for 45 million pounds in 2004. The practice of stadium naming deals has been more in vogue in North America where even the lesser known baseball and basketball teams have struck such deals.
Faria said, he has already explored stadium naming possibilities with several global brands interested in Indian football, but would not elaborate further at this time.
Meanwhile, an investment banking professional tracking investments into sports and entertainment, said, Goan football teams have managed to attract higher sponsorships for some years now. "There is no money to be made in football in Bengal and there is no government support to propmote the sport in Kerala. Goa has tremendous advantages to exploit football commercially (if All India Football Federation and the local football clubs get their act togther)," he explained.
There has been increasing interest in Indian football as a growing number of Indian youngsters follow European and English football leagues and teams. Global brands like Nike have poured in significant investments to prop up football talent at the ground level. Even recent entrants to India like Groupe Danone have signaled their early interest in football. And, add to this, the prevailing interest of Indian corporates like UB Group, which owns stakes in Kolkata teams like East Bengal and Mohan Bagan. There appears to be a slow but steady rise of investor play in football despite Mahindra United disbanding the football club recently.
The Byzantine Football Club recently produced a heartwarming success story — almost a fairytale. The Kochi-based club, founded back in 2004 by P O Jobin and K A Basheer recently won the EDFA Super League, also called Cochin Premier League. They outperformed teams with better resources and experienced footballers like Golden Threads FC and Central Excise.
Byzantine FC comprises youngsters aged between 16 and 21, which makes their victory even more glorious. The club does not charge these players for the training they receive either.
More than being a professional football club, BFC is an academy focused on training young players. Its former members have gone on to play in the Santosh Trophy or joined other teams to build a career in football.
Though they started small, they have now the 2021-22 Super League victory in their kitty, which will lead them to an opportunity to play in the qualifiers of the Kerala Premier League — the premier football division for men in the state.
“We started playing out of the passion for the game. Back in 2004, there weren’t many academies in the region. Footballers didn’t have a platform to try and pursue a career in football. We haven’t charged a single penny from those we train to date. The idea was to give youngsters opportunities,” says club owner Jobin.
The Super League-winning team was trained by Dr Rajeesh T Chacko, who is part of the physical education department of the Rajagiri School of Engineering & Technology. They have been training at the ground of St Peter’s Senior Secondary School in Kadayiruppu.
The team’s assistant coach, Subod Sukul, has a C-Licence in coaching. They are captained by B Unnikrishnan. “Coaches who have a wealth of experience came on board to train these youngsters for free. We only had training sessions once a week during the league, but we still managed to beat teams who were training throughout the week. It has been a slow but steady progress and we hope that by 2026, we will have a good setup in place. This is a big step for us. We can now aim to make an impact at a big banner like the KPL,” added Jobin. The club is also planning to conduct coaching camps for youngsters.