Delhi Daredevils deal was the missing piece in our sports business: JSW Sports CEO
Helping Olympic disciplines will continue to be a key area, says JSW Sports CEO Mustafa Ghouse, days after the company acquired a stake in Indian Premier League team Delhi Daredevilscricket Updated: Mar 17, 2018 21:54 IST
Cricket was the missing piece in our bid to build a strong sports business, said Mustafa Ghouse, CEO of JSW Sports Private Limited, in Bengaluru on Saturday. That box was ticked last week by them getting into an equal partnership with Indian Premier League (IPL) team Delhi Daredevils (DD).
“This was an opportunity that Parth (Jindal, director of the sports vertical) and others were working on for a while. Yes, there were conversations with a couple of other teams but over the past few months it was only DD,” said Ghouse in an interview at Bengaluru FC’s office at Bangalore Football Stadium.
Wasn’t getting into cricket almost six years after setting up the vertical unusual given that it is usually the first sport of choice for corporates? “The initial intent was to look at helping Olympic disciplines and that continues to be a key area. But from there we got into football, then kabaddi. The Olympic programme gave us some success and then with football, we have continued to raise the bar. We did well, making it to the play-offs in our first season at kabaddi. All this gave us the confidence internally to take on bigger challenges,” said Ghouse.
The IPL starts on April 7 but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) hasn’t yet green-lighted the deal. “We had a pretty positive meeting with them (the IPL Governing Council) yesterday (Friday) and are waiting to hear from them,” said Ghouse.
Used to starting sports projects from scratch, be it the Olympic programme or football and kabaddi teams, JSW Sports is likely to be a silent partner for their first season of the IPL. “Delhi Daredevils are an established team. We will be looking to learn from them and not disrupt anything this close to the competition. Let us first understand the system. Then, we will collectively formulate plans,” said Ghouse.
With eight from their stable going to the Commonwealth Games, there will be a lot to look forward to in April beyond the boundary. “This has now truly become a 365-day affair. After the Commonwealth Games, the kabaddi league will start, then the Asian Games would be around and soon it will be time for another Indian Super League season,” said Ghouse, who won an Asian Games bronze in tennis in 2002.
Sometime this year, the Rs 100crore sports centre too would be inaugurated in Bellary (now Ballari), nearly 300km from here, which is also where the JSW Group has a steel plant. Bengaluru FC’s residential academy is also in Ballari and will be part of the complex which will, for now, cater to boxing, wrestling, judo, athletics and swimming.
Ghouse took a red-eye flight here because of Bengaluru FC and like everyone in the office the chief operating officer wore a T-shirt with the team’s logo. When the conversation shifted to the Indian Super League debutants, Ghouse said Spanish coach Albert Roca has a strong chance of getting an extension and some more players would be offered long-term deals by next month.