The word ‘economics’ comes from two Greek words. ‘Eco’ meaning home and ‘nomos’ meaning accounts. Economics can be defined as the relationship between unlimited human wants and the limited amount of resources. The bond mainly being to maximize the satisfaction of every human economy.
Recently, when the World Cup in Russia concluded, a piece of news broke into the Indian market. The news claimed that India’s economy is the world’s sixth largest, crossing that of France, the current football superpower. But, on the other side of the coin, people neglected the population size of India, compared to that of France.
Well, talking about football, the economic side of the game has a major role to play in its sustainability and growth prospects. Football is a huge business. We only have to look at the wages of the top players to see the amount of money poured into the game. Football is also an interesting topic for economists because it arouses emotions and passions that often don’t fit into neat economic models.
From a fan’s perspective, a lot of you get fascinated to comprehend the business side of a sport. Well, for them, we urge you to take a sneak peek at how the clubs invest for its development. That too in a growing economy like India.
Football in India has seen vast changes over the past few years. The advent of the Indian Super League (ISL) - a new franchise-based league has added the much-needed glamour to the sport.
THE INCEPTION OF FOOTBALLING BEHEMOTH, BENGALURU FC -
A football club established in mid-2013, ironically based in a city with virtually no significant historical roots in football has optimized its available resources to grow exponentially. Owned by the JSW Group, there were plenty of apprehensions around its formation and many doubted whether such a club with no football heritage could sustain against the traditional heavyweights from - Kolkata and Goa. But what followed was the birth of a top-notch football organization modeled on some of the best-run clubs in Europe.
INITIAL SUCCESS -
Its been a fairy story for Bengaluru FC since its start in 2013. They bagged two I-League titles and Elite Federation Cup. They also went on to become the first Indian Club to play the AFC finals and finish as the Runners up in the 2017-18 ISL season. This season, they have made it to the playoffs after consistently leading at the top of the table. However, this fairy tale was supported on the ground with sheer professionalism, excellent coaches, futuristic approach and good managerial expertise. The back-end staff of the organization consisted of specialized professionals who had the capability to unfold its potentials in a challenging market like India.
It took the team a time span of three years and three months to top 100 years worth of enriched legacy. This professionalism was no plain sailing. “While the idea of starting a club was one that was pulled out of thin air, an impulsive call, how to run it was something we spent much time on,” recalled club COO Mustafa Ghouse in an interview. “The idea was to bring about the kind of difference that had never been seen before. It involved us studying the best practices from the world over and adapting them. Every single thing, right from the crest, colors, the way we communicate digitally, has been thought about a hundred times over.”
“You will be surprised to know how much difference being a part of a club run professionally makes. I’m saying this from a player’s perspective. You’re not worrying about anything that’s not football. I often walk into the office, and everyone’s doing something and having a good time. The whiteboards are always full of stuff, there are con calls happening. All that translates to what you eventually see. There’s never a hassle with contracts, payments, and facilities. It’s a big reason why we perform the way we do on the pitch”, says Sunil Chhetri.
The aforementioned statements demonstrate the amount of time and money put in to create the vision, mission, and ethics of the establishment.
THE SUCCEEDING APPROACH -
The club not only focuses on developing its assets but also cornerstone on evolving as a business institution. The last gamble they played was offering Chhetri a fresh contract after the 2017-18 season. This would also be the longest Chhetri’s been with any club since 2008 and he has said that he would like to retire from here. Chhetri was loaned to Bengaluru FC by ISL franchise Mumbai City FC on 2016. He was a free player by May-end. Bengaluru FC signed him within a week. That now means the club can loan him to an ISL team and recover a significant portion of his salary. The club can also do that with youngsters such as Udanta Singh.
Most I-League clubs loan players from the ISL to save costs - Mohun Bagan once had eight in an I-League season. Although, it would have been challenged in trying to compete had they too qualified for the AFC Cup quarter-finals. Bengaluru FC loaned out CK Vineeth to Chennaiyin FC last year and sold Amrinder Singh to Mumbai City FC which turned out to be a smart move for them.
The club invests proficiently on its grassroots development programmes. The academy functions in a remote location - 300 km away from Bengaluru, in Bellary which helps them in cutting down the costs which would have been imposed if they started the residential academy in Bengaluru. They have appointed a Dutchman, John Kila, who oversees the operations. Kila has worked on youth development projects in Holland, Japan, New Zealand, and Ghana previously.
Furthermore, the project in hand foresees to develop Bengaluru FC better as a team and serve more to Indian football in all possible ways. By taking the opposite route than the other Indian clubs, Bengaluru FC has shown they are serious about making a mark in Asia. However, the economic components will have a pivotal role to determine its upcoming future.
Suggested Read: The Meteoric Rise of Bengaluru FC