Pune-based Venkateshwara Hatcheries (VH) made the Blackburn Rovers takeover official on Saturday. The £54 million deal was finalised on Friday, in the United Kingdom, making VH the only Indian company to own an English Premier League team.
“As a poultry business, we are into protein, and protein and football go hand in hand,” Anuradha Desai, Chairperson of VH told journalists.
“In India, even if cricket is religion, football is the game of the future. It is getting popular with the youngsters. This deal will definitely help the Venky's brand (as VH is popularly known) in getting international recognition,” she said.
£20m. for shares
Of the £54 million, £20 million was spent in buying the shares of the team, £10 million has already been pumped in for the development of the team, and £5 million more will be spent for the same purpose; £16 million will be used to pay off the debt, and £3 million will be given to the Trust over a period of three years, Ms. Desai said.
A new company, called Venky's London Limited (VLL), has been formed for the new venture. VLL is a 100 percent subsidiary of the VH group, she said. A family-owned business, VH is run by Ms. Desai and her two brothers Venky and Balaji Rao.
“Balaji is a bigger football fan. But all three of us will have equal responsibility for the new acquisition,” she said.
Ms. Desai said that this deal will help in promoting football in India. Plans of having football camps with coaches from Blackburn, as well as programmes where children from India will get to train in the club for a short period, are on the anvil. “These programmes will start in the next six months,” she said.
Asked if there were plans of starting a football academy, Ms. Desai said that it was premature to say anything about it now but the VH group would think about it.
VLL will not make any immediate changes in the team. The change in the coach of the team will also be decided eventually. However, the Blackburn stadium, now called Ewood, will soon be called Venky's Ewood.
Ms. Desai said the previous managers had not built up a brand around the team, and that VLL would leverage the brand more.
“Who knows, Blackburn will become a bigger brand than Venky's itself,” she said, and added, “We will do everything in the interest of the team.”