What was the opportunity you saw in bringing a football café to India?
Football is a global sport. Today, 208 countries are registered with FIFA. India had always been lacking a good sports bar where people could enjoy a game with like-minded supporters. So mixing soccer with a high end sports bar was a logical step. Man Utd is a very popular football club, with around 20 million followers in India itself. Hence opening a football related sports bar under the Man Utd brand name was a no brainer of sorts.
Being a club specific café, how do you plan to attract fans of other clubs and also other sports fans?
The group understands the dynamics of the hospitality sector well and that’s a huge advantage for us. Our primary consumer is a Manchester United fan but we promote the café as a sports bar where fans can also enjoy cricket, tennis and F1. The primary objective of the café is to give all its customers the best viewing experience of sports, along with great food and service. Though the backdrop is Manchester United, we do get fans of other clubs coming to us regularly, as they do not get this kind of viewing experience elsewhere in the city. To be honest, we cannot really attract them by saying Arsenal fans are invited, but word of mouth is something which is helping us attract the fans. In fact we had a grand event and an awesome turnout when India won the T20 World Cup.
Do you see a potential for football related brands marketing in a county mad about cricket?
People are slowly turning towards other sports. The change can be attributed to a number of reasons like better facilities in schools, training schools opening in the country like the Man Utd soccer school and people looking beyond cricket. coaches abroad are watching out for talent in the country and that gives a major boost to people who play the sport and want to take it beyond the shadows of cricket. Foot ball popularity is increasing by the day, and visits of stars and Legends like Gary Neville, Messi, will only add to the popularity of the sport. Neville recently exclaimed, “the Café sounds like Old Trafford”. EPL is one of the most watched leagues in India. Expats living in India follow it immensely. The players of the clubs have become such big youth icons and legends. That kind of following is lacking even in cricket. I personally feel the football we are seeing in the country is just the beginning, and in years to come it will grow exponentially.