The top boss of the Blues has revealed losses in crores and sought guidance.
Parth Jindal, owner of Bengaluru FC, has written to Nita Ambani, the Chairperson of Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) the promoters of the Indian Super League, citing losses of ‘₹25 crore every season.’ The letter further highlights the delicate financial condition of India’s premier league competition. He has requested Ambani for her guidance and assistance in these difficult times, according to The Indian Express.
The ongoing season of ISL 2020-21 is being played behind closed doors in Goa. The teams are being kept in a secure bio-bubble, which contains the spread of COVID-19. Jindal wrote about the increase in losses due to several factors such as lack of ticketing revenue, losing sponsorships and the additional costs of maintaining the bubble.
“Not having ticket revenue, losing out on sponsorships as well as the additional costs due to maintaining the COVID-19 bubble have resulted in losses increasing dramatically. Since we have joined the ISL, we have been losing in excess of ₹25 crores every season and this season, the numbers are even worse,” Jindal wrote in the letter.
Sources of income for the ISL clubs were already limited. Lack of TV revenue (because the broadcaster is also the co-owner) meant ticket sales and sponsorships were major contributors to their income. In order to pay the wages of star foreign players, the clubs have had to incur huge losses.
He further wrote in the letter, “Moreover, the already fragile financial health of the ISL has worsened by the suspension of the youth subsidy usually granted by Reliance Foundation to qualifying teams and inadequate sanctions being imposed on teams flouting player salary cap rules, using one loophole or another. Investing in youth is the only way Indian football is going to grow and stopping the youth subsidy is a severe blow to clubs like ours that are spending on this front.”
Financial strife is nothing new to ISL clubs. FC Pune City shut shop due to a financial crunch and Delhi Dynamos’ management changed base to Odisha because of the high costs of running a club in New Delhi.
Bengaluru FC are one of India’s best-run clubs that boast top-tier infrastructure. Their team has high-profile foreigners & Indian players like Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. However, the model has become non-sustainable and needs a rethink, according to the owner.
Parth Jindal further added in the letter the need to recalibrate the financial structure of the competition. “Today, I am not aware how franchises like BFC will become profitable or even break even and would love to deliberate and understand along with the other team owners what the future holds.”