Minerva Punjab FC get co-owner
Minerva Punjab Football Club, I-League champions in 2017-18, got a co-owner on Tuesday. The new 50-50 merger deal is with the Punjab-based RoundGlass Sports which is part of a foundation started by Indian-origin corporate Gurpreet (Sunny) Singh who owns a healthcare software solutions company in the USA. As part of the new deal, RoundGlass Sport will have access to all age-group teams of Minerva Punjab FC — under-11 to under-18. Minerva Punjab will keep control of the senior team.
RoundGlass Sports runs grassroots football programmes in Punjab and has competed in age-specific leagues organised by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). Its academy received a two-star rating from the AIFF last season.
RoundGlass Sports played in the Punjab zone of the under-18 I-League last term but couldn’t qualify from the group which was topped by eventual title winners Minerva who beat Pune City 2-0 in the final. In 2018-19, Minerva also successfully defended their under-15 I-League title, beating Bengaluru FC 2-0 in the final.
For its youth football programme, Minerva’s co-owners have hired Michael Browne, an Englishman who was academy director at Charlton Athletic, has worked in Australia and was the football programme head at Aspire Academy in Doha prior to that. According to a report on the Aspire website, seven in the starting line-up of the Qatar team that beat Japan 3-1 in the 2019 Asian Cup final were its products as were two of the substitutes.
Representatives of RoundGlass Sports have spoken to the AIFF about the deal, a federation official told this paper. “The AIFF has told them to keep it informed to ensure that there are no hitches over club licensing requirements,” the official said.
After confirming to this newspaper on July 18 that he is looking for investors, Minerva owner Ranjit Bajaj wrote to the AIFF informing it about a possible 50% sale of the club.
“We now have access to approximately 120 children across all ages who are a step closer to be being inducted into our world-class football academy; through our talent program,” said Singh in a media release late on Tuesday, “With this merger our kids will have access to the globally recognized (sic) coaching staff and facilities,” said Bajaj.