Liverpool Criticism

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Post by kiranr Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:18 am

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/et-cetera/has-liverpools-india-business-scored-an-own-goal/articleshow/9761684.cms



Helping lift India out of an area of footballing darkness is a sexy business proposition. After all, the world's second fastest growing large economy is a football pygmy, currently ranked 158th in a field of 202. Starting youth academies with the ostensible aim of producing a Messi or a Ronaldo in the far future seems the strategy for many big name European clubs desperate to grab a slice of this blue ocean market. They are being pushed further by large football sponsors such as Standard Chartered, Volkswagen and sportswear companies like Adidas and Nike to look east where their fastest growing markets lie. Last week Liverpool football club, the most successful club in football history, announced its plans to kick-off a football academy here in India, only the second such venture in Asia.

Playing Footie

But if you are planning to shift your allegiance to Liverpool out of gratitude, hang on a minute. What the club is essentially doing is lending its instantly recognisable brand name (for a fee, of course) to local entrepreneurs who would run training camps for well-heeled urban kids who could afford to fork out good money to learn to play the "Liverpool Way", wearing red shirts with the club's insignia emblazoned on it. No screening, no talent spotting. If you can pay, come and kick a ball. This is football as fast-food franchise.

A Liverpool icon of the late 1980s, Steve McMahon was a hard tackling, bull terrier of a midfielder. Now with ESPN Star, he follows a similar no-nonsense approach to English Premier League (EPL) punditry, often peppering his analysis with the Boycottesque expression my-mum-could-have-scored-that-goal and exhorting defenders to get "stook in" in his Scouse accent.

Last week, when McMahon was in Delhi to announce the launch of the eponymous academy in association with his former club, the roles had reversed. Journalists got stuck into him, and to use a McMahon cliche, he was all over the place. How much money would Liverpool invest? "I can't tell you that." Will it be a charitable venture? "No". How will the profits be split between him, Liverpool and the academy's Indian partner? "All profits will be put back into the academy." It was the kind of obdurate stonewalling the current crop of Liverpool defenders would be proud of. Some exasperated journalists walked off.

Raking in the Moolah

The issue McMahon, and other representatives from Liverpool, were trying to dribble past was that the venture's aim to simply sell more Liverpool merchandise than produce better footballers. Liverpool isn't the first European club to get engaged in football education in the country. Spanish giants Barcelona have a programme running for the past couple of years, and not to be left too far behind, arch rivals Real Madrid too started a similar campaign earlier this year. But the different styles adopted by the English club and its continental rivals reflects the EPL's "greed is good" attitude as opposed to the stronger community development commitment clubs in Spain have.

Liverpool's academy's India franchisee is a little known sports enterprise called Carnoustie, and will be based in an expensive private school in Noida. In the first year it plans to take in 500 children, for an estimated annual fee of close to $1,000 (roughly `45,000). Initially, the club will ship some coaches from England. The club's head of international academies Steve Turner was a little more forthcoming about the objectives. "A lot of people in India and Asia who are big fans of Liverpool don't get to touch and feel the club's magic. An academy would help them do that," he says.

Selling a Dummy

Such evangelism has few takers in the country's football establishment. "Every club has the right to expand its business interests, but let them please not say that they would come here to transform the sport in India. That takes a lot of money and commitment. They ultimately want to sell more Rs 5,000 T-shirts to rich Indian kids," says an All India Football Federation (AIFF) official. Building a residential academy, spotting talent and creating infrastructure is serious business. He estimates that its costs the Tata Football Academy in Jamshedpur close to Rs 1 crore a year in operating expenses alone. According to another AIFF insider, German giants Bayern Munich some years ago were keen to invest in an international standard free residential academy near Kolkata. But the land it required to build a campus with four training pitches, a swimming pool, fitness centres and a school proved difficult to get.

More than Football

The Spanish giants on the other hand have taken a harder route to India. Two years ago Barcelona teamed up with the NGO Rural Development Trust started by the Spanish philanthropist Vicente Ferrer that works in rural Ananthapur district in Andhra Pradesh to start sports-centric educational programmes for underprivileged children, who certainly cannot afford a Messi replica shirt. More than 100 children are provided free training in football, hockey (Barca also has hockey teams) and indigenous sports such as kabaddi and kho kho alongside lessons in math, English and science that would enhance their chances of joining the economic mainstream. Juan Laporta, the former club president who visited the school in Bathlapalli two years ago had committed 80,000 for the cause and the support still continues. Moncho Ferrer who now heads the NGO, says that the club is keen to start a full-fledged football school soon.

Spanish Lessons

Arch rivals Real Madrid through its foundation started a similar school in 24 Parganas with International Institute of Mother and Child, an NGO, in April this year. The school has 450 students from the age of 6 to 15 years. The club is careful not to mix commercial interests with philanthropy. "Our foundation is solely motivated by social interests and setting-up social and educational projects for underprivileged groups. We do not have commercial interests in India," a spokesperson of the club's foundation said. Locally selected coaches have been trained by club representatives from Madrid and the focus is not on improving football skills overnight. The club says that to make better footballers out of kids from poorer backgrounds, what's more important is paying attention towards nutrition and self-esteem. The Spanish do prefer build-up play, as opposed to the English kick-and-grab.

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Post by Art Morte Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:34 am

What exactly is the negative aspect of these sort of ventures?
Okay, these academies are not only aimed at coaching young footballers, but also at growing brand awareness and selling more merchandise in the region, but what's wrong with that? It's not like Liverpool FC - or those other clubs who have done the same - are forcing people at gun point to buy anything.
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Post by BeautifulGame Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:37 am

Though the article is correct about Liverpool's intentions you would be fooling yourselves if u think the intentions of Barca and Madrid are different.Everyone now wants a share of our growing economy so are trying various tactics to to benifit themselves including Barca Madrid Liverpool and whoever else.

If they had real intention to help Indian football they would have started academies decades ago not now in the last 2-3 years when our ecomony raising through the roof.They are all just greedy merchants and arent going to make an iota of difference to development of football.That all depends on our football association.

And for the author implying Liverpool play kick and Rush football shows his football ignorance.Well considering the article is from indiatimes its not really surprising.
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Post by kiranr Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:41 am

Art Morte wrote:What exactly is the negative aspect of these sort of ventures?
Okay, these academies are not only aimed at coaching young footballers, but also at growing brand awareness and selling more merchandise in the region, but what's wrong with that? It's not like Liverpool FC - or those other clubs who have done the same - are forcing people at gun point to buy anything.

The negative aspect is that the academy is not focusing on finding the right footballers but rather they are looking to grow their brand and making some money out of it too. Ideally, the focus of such academies should be holistic and bottom-up, but Liverpool are not going down that route.
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Post by kiranr Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:46 am

BeautifulGame wrote:Though the article is correct about Liverpool's intentions you would be fooling yourselves if u think the intentions of Barca and Madrid are different.Everyone now wants a share of our growing economy so are trying various tactics to to benifit themselves including Barca Madrid Liverpool and whoever else.

If they had real intention to help Indian football they would have started academies decades ago not now in the last 2-3 years when our ecomony raising through the roof.They are all just greedy merchants and arent going to make an iota of difference to development of football.That all depends on our football association.

And for the author implying Liverpool play kick and Rush football shows his football ignorance.Well considering the article is from indiatimes its not really surprising.

The criticism is not about Liverpool wanting to make money. The criticism is on the approach taken by Liverpool as they have the resources to start a proper academy in India or tie up with any existing academy and inject time and capabilities there.

Economic Times is a good paper and the kick-and-grab part is just a rhetoric. Dont give too much importance to that. albino
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Post by BeautifulGame Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:46 am

kiranr wrote:
Art Morte wrote:What exactly is the negative aspect of these sort of ventures?
Okay, these academies are not only aimed at coaching young footballers, but also at growing brand awareness and selling more merchandise in the region, but what's wrong with that? It's not like Liverpool FC - or those other clubs who have done the same - are forcing people at gun point to buy anything.

The negative aspect is that the academy is not focusing on finding the right footballers but rather they are looking to grow their brand and making some money out of it too. Ideally, the focus of such academies should be holistic and bottom-up, but Liverpool are not going down that route.

Now apart from the author mentioning of Barca's intention in 2 lines how much u have known about Barca's intention about recruiting kids.Seriously dont kid me that they are searching for poor kids playing in streets in india and are training them into a footballing system.U would be fooling yourselves believing that.
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Post by kiranr Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:49 am

BeautifulGame wrote:
kiranr wrote:
Art Morte wrote:What exactly is the negative aspect of these sort of ventures?
Okay, these academies are not only aimed at coaching young footballers, but also at growing brand awareness and selling more merchandise in the region, but what's wrong with that? It's not like Liverpool FC - or those other clubs who have done the same - are forcing people at gun point to buy anything.

The negative aspect is that the academy is not focusing on finding the right footballers but rather they are looking to grow their brand and making some money out of it too. Ideally, the focus of such academies should be holistic and bottom-up, but Liverpool are not going down that route.

Now apart from the author mentioning of Barca's intention in 2 lines how much u have known about Barca's intention about recruiting kids.Seriously dont kid me that they are searching for poor kids playing in streets in india and are training them into a footballing system.U would be fooling yourselves believing that.

Of course, i dont believe that. But Liverpool seems to be too upscale. How many people are going to pay Rs 45,000 for learning football?
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Post by BeautifulGame Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:50 am

kiranr wrote:
Economic Times is a good paper and the kick-and-grab part is just a rhetoric. Dont give too much importance to that. albino

Kidding me right?They ge lot of exclusives i agree but they are not a patch on Business lines from Hindu.Everything from the times of india establishment is just sensationalist nothing else including Times now.Just because they sell more papers doesnt mean they are a quality paper.
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Post by kiranr Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:53 am

BeautifulGame wrote:
kiranr wrote:
Economic Times is a good paper and the kick-and-grab part is just a rhetoric. Dont give too much importance to that. albino

Kidding me right?They ge lot of exclusives i agree but they are not a patch on Business lines from Hindu.Everything from the times of india establishment is just sensationalist nothing else including Times now.Just because they sell more papers doesnt mean they are a quality paper.

I rate Business Line and Business Standard over Economic times and i agree with your other comments about them being sensationalist in nature.

However, they still do produce decent stuff.
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Post by BeautifulGame Sun Aug 28, 2011 11:57 am

kiranr wrote:
Of course, i dont believe that. But Liverpool seems to be too upscale. How many people are going to pay Rs 45,000 for learning football?

Is this amount monthly or yearly? If its yearly plenty can easily afford it actually most of middle class.But it doesnt matter much who can afford.One could easily write an article arguing Liverpool will provide far more quality training to kids than Barca academy because they are charging the costs.Like Private and govt schools in India.These articles are half baked and pointless.

Frankly i dont think any of these academies will make any impact unless our football association get their act toghther which wont be anytime soon.
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Post by kiranr Sun Aug 28, 2011 12:23 pm

BeautifulGame wrote:
kiranr wrote:
Of course, i dont believe that. But Liverpool seems to be too upscale. How many people are going to pay Rs 45,000 for learning football?

Is this amount monthly or yearly? If its yearly plenty can easily afford it actually most of middle class.But it doesnt matter much who can afford.One could easily write an article arguing Liverpool will provide far more quality training to kids than Barca academy because they are charging the costs.Like Private and govt schools in India.These articles are half baked and pointless.

Frankly i dont think any of these academies will make any impact unless our football association get their act toghther which wont be anytime soon.

Yes you have a point. I guess it eventually depends upon the route you want to take. I still have a doubt about people paying Rs 45,000 every year for football lessons. There will be takers, but not many.

While i believe that Liverpool do not have to take up any responsibility for development of football in the country and they are perfect within their rights to treat it as a commercial enterprise, i believe a bottom up approach could be win-win for both the football club and a large part of the society.



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Post by mr-r34 Sun Aug 28, 2011 2:21 pm

I don't get the point of this thread, i think someone needs to remember that in this dane age, clubs are a business.
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