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Zee Sports wants to halt EPL's stride

The channel endeavours to popularise Indian club football in the country to give the game a fillip.

india Updated: Jan 03, 2007 20:02 IST

Zee Sports, which has signed a 10-year deal with the All India Football Federation, wants to check the following of English football in the country by making Indian soccer more popular, a top official of the channel said on Wednesday.

"We want youngsters in the country to follow the Indian clubs which will help in creating brand value for the teams as well as the league and Indian football in general," Chief Operating Officer of Zee Sports Gary Lovejoy said here.

Indian youth supporting various foreign clubs was a trend which needed to be stopped, he said.

"I see youngsters in malls sporting Chelsea and Manchester United T-shirts. However, it would be great if we have such support for Indian clubs," Lovejoy, who incidentally is an Englishman himself, said.

He claimed that matches from the National Football League, Santosh Trophy and Federation Cup generated higher Television Rating Points (TRPs) than English Premier League matches telecast in the same time slot.

"The nationwide figures, and those in Kolkata in particular, show that Indian football has a large viewership in the country.

"We cannot expect other parts of India to match Kolkata in that regard, but if they show even half of that, EPL will be swept away in this country," Lovejoy said.

"Chelsea don't need the money (from sale of merchandise). So Indians should be supporting Indian football."

Ten Sports, in which the channel has a major stake, is telecasting Indian football in the Middle East and Hong Kong.

"It is good that we are now exporting our football," he said.

First Published: Jan 03, 2007 20:02 IST