Ahead of the Premier League LIVE event in Bangalore on October 14/15, I had the chance to speak exclusively to Richard Masters, Managing Director at The Premier League in England, about the Premier League, its growth, their interests in India and much more…
The Premier League since its launch 25 years ago has seen incredible growth. Where do you see the Premier League stand today?
The growth of the Premier League is because of the clubs. Their managers, players and fantastic stadiums filled with passionate fans have driven interest in the competition all over the world.
Fans across the globe enjoy the competitive and compelling nature of the Premier League – matches are broadcast to one billion homes in 189 countries.
How important has foreign investment been for the Premier League?
International investment has played a key role in the development of the Premier League, both through club ownership and broadcast rights sales.
The growing international fan base has led to individuals and companies from all over the world wanting to associate with individual clubs and the League as a whole.
The importance of international markets for the European football leagues is ever growing. How important is it to the Premier League?
Engaging fans internationally is very important to the Premier League and the clubs. You only need to look at the increasing number of international events our clubs hold around the world – from North America to South East Asia – to see the importance the clubs and the League place on international development.
On this front, how do you see your European competitors – Bundesliga, LaLiga, Serie A and Ligue 1?
At the Premier League, we and our clubs focus on our own growth and development through putting on the best possible football competition, and engaging with fans at home and across the world. There are many great leagues across Europe and Asia doing their own excellent work to engage fans and grow interest in the sport.
How important is India as a market for the Premier League?
Fans in India are extremely important to the Premier League and the clubs. Research shows that there are close to 90 million Premier League fans in India and I have seen the passionate support they have for clubs, and the League as a whole, at previous events. We had a fantastic Premier League Live event in Mumbai in 2014, which was attended by 32,000 fans and I am looking forward to seeing many more fans come together to celebrate and share their passion for the Premier League at the event in Bangalore.
There are a number of youth projects from Premier League clubs, commercial partnerships/sponsorship deals havee been signed in recent times, former Premier League greats are in the Indian Super League, but no Premier League team has played on Indian soil in recent times. Will that change soon?
The popularity of the Premier League and its clubs continues to grow globally and clubs are always considering new countries to visit. There is every possibility that they could come to India in the future.
How important are events like the upcoming Premier League LIVE in Bangalore?
Events such as Premier League Live give local fans the chance to enjoy a Premier League experience and get up close to clubs. Whether it is sharing the excitement of the live matches, learning more about clubs or meeting former Premier League stars, it is really important that we and our clubs provide the opportunity to engage our passionate fans in India. Football brings people together and Premier League Live is designed to offer a variety of fun activities and give local fans the chance to share and celebrate their love for the game.
How important and vital is the interaction of the Premier League with fans in India and around the world? Is it more up to the individual clubs or something done collectively through the Premier League?
The interest in the Premier League is driven by the clubs and we work with and support them to engage fans internationally. The Premier League hosts international events such as fan parks or our Asia Trophy tournament to help bring Premier League clubs, and the competition as a whole, closer to fans around the world. Our broadcast partners also do a fantastic job in promoting the League and the clubs.
Individuals clubs also host their own events and participate in tournaments and work hard to provide opportunities to engage their global fanbase. It is vitally important that we continue to work together to ensure we are bringing experiences to fans in India and around the world.
How important do you think will the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup be for the growth of Indian football?
We know from the work that we do with the ISL and the AIFF that there is a huge amount going on to support football development at all levels in India. Hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup will be another step in putting India on the global football stage and will hopefully prove to inspire more talented youngsters to play and take an interest in the sport. It is a great opportunity for India to showcase its football facilities, its infrastructure around the development of the game and engage fans.
Thank you very much Mr. Masters for this insightful interview!