The partnership will conduct a host of football development projects throughout the year, including leveraging Germany’s youth development system to launch grassroots activities in multiple states with the vision of elevating Indian football.
“Both the Bundesliga and IMG Reliance will work in conjunction to conceptualise and execute a joint long-term strategy across all levels throughout India,” said Robert Klein, chief executive officer of Bundesliga International.
While Bundesliga’s popularity in India has seen a rise over the years, the league will create deeper engagement with Indian consumers by organising visits from German football legends and current football stars, exhibition matches against German teams, match screenings, and fan parks, so as to provide fans in India with unique opportunities to experience the Bundesliga.
The Bundesliga will also work towards extending Indo-German cooperation in the field of football by creating platforms and opportunities for Bundesliga clubs to explore technical and commercial partnerships in India.
All its activities will be promoted by IMG Reliance.
“It is an exciting opportunity for us to work with a football league that has a long-term vision for what it wants to achieve and has the strength of conviction to back this desire with the required investments,” said Srinivvaasan Gopalkrishnan of IMG Reliance.
The Bundesliga is ranked second highest earning football league globally with annual revenues in excess of $4.5 billion, and has the highest average stadium attendance worldwide at 44,000 footfalls per game. The top clubs are Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund while key players in the league include Robert Lewandowski, Manuel Neuer, Marco Reus and James Rodriguez.
Short Q&A with Robert Klein, CEO, Bundesliga
How big an opportunity is India for the Bundesliga?
Over the last five years, football has grown considerably in India, which was particularly evident during 2017’s FIFA Under-17 World Cup. The Indian Super League has played a big role in reigniting interest in football in India and developing new markets for the sport such as Chennai, Kochi, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Kolkata and Goa. India certainly presents a fascinating opportunity for the Bundesliga and our clubs. Considering the sheer size of the market, and the growing interest in football, this is the perfect time to focus on India.
How do you plan to popularise Bundesliga in India?
Football is global and the Bundesliga is a global brand. We believe, in order to grow the Bundesliga brand successfully, we need to have a clear strategic focus on India. In order to do this, we have developed a multi-faceted approach, which includes both digital and traditional marketing campaigns as well as on-ground activation in India.
We also believe there are great opportunities for Bundesliga and Indian Super League clubs to help Indian football grow. Whilst they can help reach local supporters, we can offer our professional experience, particularly around youth development, spectator experience and fan engagement — aspects that the Bundesliga is famous for.
What kind of investments have you planned in India in the near or long term?
In order to strengthen our brand, we will be ensuring that our team spends the time necessary on developing and monitoring our strategy, given the complex cultural landscape that exists within India. For us, the sheer size of India and its population means that a short-term approach would be ineffective. A long-term, executable strategy is the only way to deeply connect with Indian audiences and help grow the sport across the country.
From a commercial perspective, we will be actively seeking Indian business partners that share our vision for the development of football in the country. Creating connections between the business community and our clubs will be key to boosting activities and driving our consumer engagement strategy by capitalising on their market knowledge and contact with local communities.