Top Swiss side FC Basel on Wednesday February 6th bought a 26 per cent stake in Chennai City, becoming the first foreign side to buy into an Indian football club.
Chennai, which has only been in existence in India's I-League for three years, did not give the value of a deal that will see Basel help create a youth football academy.
Today we can announce, that FC Basel has acquired a minority stake of the Indian football club @ChennaiCityFC and will launch a close partnership with the club. More info here ?? https://t.co/5x4Rw7cNcy #FCBasel1893 #zämmestark pic.twitter.com/OTMw3gvItS
— FC Basel 1893 ?? (@FC_Basel_en) February 6, 2019
But the Times of India newspaper said the European Champions League regulars would invest about 20 million euros ($22 million). “The money which they will pump in will be focussed completely in the youth set up and on the infrastructure,” Chennai co-owner Rohit Ramesh told AFP after the announcement of the deal in New Delhi.
“This is a game-changer for us. Getting a European football club investing money is something which opens doors for potentially other clubs to also come in and invest,” he added.
The partnership includes creating a youth academy in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where Chennai is the main city, as well as soccer schools across the region.
Basel president Bernhard Burgener called the deal “historic” for Indian football and the Swiss club. Burgener highlighted India's growing interest in football, adding that the recently finished Asian Cup had “showcased that there is immense footballing potential to be tapped” in the country.
“I’m delighted that FC Basel is the first European club to have the opportunity to participate in an Indian club. The intensive exchange of ideas with the club manager for the CCFC won us over. The priority for us is providing support for new talent. We also see great development potential in Indian football in general,” said Burgener in a statement.
“The strategic partnership with this top Indian club from a city of seven million is focused on joint training of talent, close cooperation in the area of scouting as well as the development and expansion of junior academies in Southern India,” added FC Basel in their statement.
Chennai City is the league leader in India's Professional Football League (I-League), the top Indian league apart from the Indian Super League (ISL).
The partnership was officially announced at a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday February 6th.
While ranked just 97th in FIFA's world rankings, India were praised for their performance at the regional tournament in the UAE, where they beat Thailand 4-1 in the opening round.