ISL franchisee North East United is aiming to break even over the next two years. The franchisee owner has that his team will become the first one among all the ISL teams to break even.
“NEUFC will be the first team in ISL to break-even. This is the fourth season of ISL and we will break-even in fifth or sixth season. So, it is just one or two more seasons,” Abraham said at a press conference in Kolkata. Most of the ISL teams are targeting to break-even in the seventh or eighth season of the league, he claimed.
“Within the ISL, when someone talks about template, then they say look at NEUFC. We are working on economy of scale. We are working at the grass root and with local boys. We also prefer local sponsors,” said the actor and sportentrepreneur.
The cine star also exudes confidence that football will be the next cricket in India. It would take time tough, he agreed. “Indian football still has to develop. Foreign players are coming up and it is exciting for Indian players. Infrastructure has to be developed. If you ask me, football is not cricket yet, but it will be new cricket in a period of time.”
The NEUFC is also very reasonable in terms of pricing of tickets during the matches and highly appreciated the support of the government machinery, John Abraham added. “We have a long-term vision. We are here for very, very long term. We have already tied up with two clubs in Shillong and in Manipur. We have shortlisted kids and will house them in a residential academy at Shillong, where all their needs, including education will be taken care of.”
A third partnership is in the offing with a club in Mizoram, he added without sharing the name. “I am also the brand ambassador of Arunachal Pradesh. Very soon something very, very exciting coming up there. It is about football. NEUFC is not just a club. It is a platform to reiterate the voice of North East,” the actor said.
The NEUFC has conducted scouting across Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Manipur and selected 48 kids for training them at the residential academy. Asked about merger of I-League and ISL, Abraham said it does not look possible at present, but a has to be taken by the higher management.
Abraham is also establishing contacts with the State Governments in the North East for tie-ups to increase tourism in the region.