Liverpool to set up football academies in India

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 on Wednesday.

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 percent 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

programs 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

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 Sept.

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.