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Champion tag to fill up Atletico De Kolkata’s coffers

When Mohammed Rafique netted the winner in the 95th minute, he not only ensured Atletico De Kolkata as the champion of the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League, but also that the team would pocket the prize money of Rs 8 crore. That money would help the franchisee get back a portion of the expenses it incurred this year. Beside the prize money, the franchisee will also receive a performance bonus, which will be calculated on the basis of respective teams’ league positions in the table.

The Kolkata franchisee, co-owned by industrialists Sanjiv Goenka, Harsh Neotia, Utsav Parekh and cricketer Sourav Ganguly was one of the costliest of the tournament. “Definitely franchisee like ours along with Mumbai and Pune were more costly than the others, “said an official of Atletico De Kolkata. According to him, the franchisee paid a premium of over 25 percent over the Rs 15 crore average franchisee fees.

Besides that, the team spent an amount of Rs 3.91 crore in the domestic player draft, the highest among all franchisees. The team also picked up seven international players from the central pool while signing former Barcelona and Liverpool player Luis Garcia as their marquee player. “Overall the budget was around Rs 50 crore for this season including promotional expenses,” said Utsav Parekh, co-owner of the franchisee.

The franchisee normally earns revenue from ticket sales, and sponsorship revenues. Atletico de Kolkata who has Salt Lake stadium as its home ground has the highest capacity among all the teams. “The attendance for each match was about 35 to 40 thousand,” said Parekh. Eight matches were played in the Salt Lake stadium and the franchisee sold tickets in the denominations of Rs 200, Rs 300, Rs 400, Rs 500, Rs 750, Rs 2,000 and Rs 2,500.

The champion tag will also help to bring in more lucrative sponsorship offers for Atletico De Kolkata in the coming season. For the inaugural season, the franchisee’s sponsors include: Aircel, Apollo Munich, Lux Cozi, SRMB TMT Bar, R P Sanjiv Goenka Group. “Definitely the performance of a team in any sporting event is a key index for its brand value, after this performance I believe more brands would like to be associated with us, “said Parekh. All sponsorship deals are valid for one year as per the rules of the tournament. According to industry estimates, the franchisee earned around Rs 7 crore as sponsorship fees.

“Having been crowned the first champions of ISL, I see the commercial value of sponsorship growing by a strong 30-35 percent in the coming season and by close to 45-50% (of Season 1 values’) over the next 2-3 seasons, ” said Varun Mathur, general manager, Nimbus Sport which handled the franchisee’s commercial rights including their principal sponsorship with Aircel. He added that two brands have already approached them expressing interest to partner with ATK for next season.

Brand experts feel that for any sporting team to gain brand value, besides marketing, the on-field performance plays a major role. “Atletico De Kolkata by winning the inaugural edition has established itself because brands like to associate itself teams that win, also ISL overall has been successful which will help the team. If they can engage with the fans more actively they will grow bigger ,” said Varun Gupta, managing director, American Appraisal, a valuation and consulting firm.

The promoters while being optimistic is taking it as a long term investment plan. “There will be more professionalism in this business. The team will be handled like a professional business unit. We are going to appoint a CEO,” said leading promoter Sanjiv Goenka.


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