The bar in Indian Football has risen due to the efforts of Dempo Sports Club and Mr. Shrinivas Dempo. After building the most successful club in Indian football, the Goan industrialist and football aficionado has added another feather to his illustrious football cap – a stunning 12 million Euro (Rs 80 crore) investment in FC Midtjylland Holdings AS translating into a stake of 34% in the Danish Club based in Herning, that boasts of one of the best academies in the world. The deal that was inked early yesterday is in terms of a long-term technical and commercial partnership between the parties, with the Dempo investment strengthening the FCM capital base, and FCM providing the technical know-how to Dempo.

“It’s a historic day for FC Midtjylland and hopefully usher in a new era,” says Søren Bach, CEO, FC Mitdjylland after the deal was inked. “It is imperative that we capitalize on our football professionalism that FCM is known for. We must, among other things, help the Indians with technical support of youth and senior players, exchange programs for coaches and players between the two clubs and the coaching and development in sport management,” he went on to explain.

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Mr. Shrinivas Dempo (centre) along with FC Midtjylland officials during his visit to Denmark in April.

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Earlier in April this year, Mr. Dempo visited Denmark and saw first hand the various facilities that were on offer at the FC Midtjylland academy in Herning. Visibly impressed with what he saw, Mr. Dempo was keen to engage in a long term partnership with the Danes and early in June sent his most trusted lieutenant, head coach Armando Colaco along with youth coach Mathew D’Costa and marketing-incharge Rajiv Kulkarni to Denmark to take a closer look at the facilities. So impressed was Armando with the facilities at Herning that he was even ready to quit his India job to concentrate on this great project.

When Armando returned from his visit he was bowled over by the academy facilities.

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The facilities at FC Midtjylland

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This academy along with the personnel is incredible. I have no words to express how happy I am after going through the academy workouts by the coaches, especially Tony and Lars. They are all full of warmth and enthusiasm, just the way we are at Dempo. Eighteen playgrounds and fantastic academy set up. Its really great, this tie up, a dream come true for our boys. They believe in the same philosophy as we do believe here in Dempo, play from behind by keeping the ball possession, build up patiently, spread the game, overlapping, crossing from the wings, cutting back and strong finish.

They also believe in having dreams and keeping the players happy at all times without any pressure, the way we do at Dempo, allowing the players to express freely themselves on the ground. All along in my coaching instructions to the aspiring coaches, I always used to talk about Ajax model but now after seeing it in Herning personally by me, I have to start talking about this FC Midtjylland Youth Academy. I have been given to understand that even Ajax and Juventus have started asking them how they have been able to sell 68 players within just a short span of time. Incredible! Speaks volumes of their great youth training” said the India coach after his return from Denmark.

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The FCM stadium

Inside the FCM stadium

Inside the FCM stadium

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Throwing more light on the deal Mr. Soren Bach added, “It is the start of a new era for the Club. The agreement enables us to add value to the continuity of our soccer team and retain our own playing talent longer. We can enhance the level of talent development, and begin truly to internationalize the Academy”.

As part of the agreement, a joint football academy will also be established in Goa by Dempo, under the guidance and expertise of FC Midtjylland.

After clinching the historic deal Mr. Dempo was all praise for the tie-up and added, “The investment marks the moment when intent turned into commitment. It’s kick-off time for the Dempo foray into truly international football. Our agreement is aimed at raising the playing standard of Indian soccer, and at this tie-up with a first rate European academy and team shall spur the development of the game even faster.”

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Armando Colaco with FCM Officials at Herning during his visit in June

The three Dempo Sports Club Officials who vsited Denmark in June. From left, Armando Colaco, Rajiv Kulkarni and Mathew D'Costa

Dempo youth coach Mathew D'Costa (background) observing the training sessions

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The deal was facilitated and coordinated by the renowned Sports Management Company New World Consulting, which specializes in investments in sports. They will be working closely with both parties – FCM and Dempo – in both countries so as to maximize the benefits to both sides from this investment. The deal could also herald a new beginning for Indo-Danish relations and this sports-driven relations could enable forays into commercial partnerships also – a win-win situation for both parties and countries. The Share Subscription Agreement shall take effect after the final approval of the shareholders of the FCM Holdings AS at an Extraordinary General Meeting to be held on September 15th.

The Path Ahead

Dempo are already in the process of acquiring land for this ambitious project in Goa. An academy along with a state of the art stadium is definitely on the cards. With the Club Licensing Criteria eventually catching up, it will be only a matter of time before all clubs will have to build their own stadium and when the Licensing Criteria does catch up; Dempo will certainly have a head start compared to the rest of the clubs in the country. This is definitely a big boost for Indian and Goan football. Talented youngsters from Goa will in all probability be sent to Denmark for training and if things go according to plan, could be sold in the European market.

FCM according to reports make an average of 8-10 million dollars on the sale of players, something that Dempo could be eagerly waiting to cash on. Plus it would give a chance to a Goan hopeful of plying his trade in Europe – a dream for every footballer. Our coaches would benefit immensely from the exchange programme, another aspect that Goan football would benefit from. There’s no doubt that this deal would raise the level of Indian football too.

Dempo could even avail of the services of some of Midtjylland’s academy players, further strengthening the squad and could even take the club to the pinnacle of Asian glory. It’s no secret that after winning everything in Indian football, Mr. Shrinivas Dempo has set his sights on Asian glory and the players with the quality like those produced at FCM could definitely take the team far at the continental level.

Dempo Sports Club will attain global status through FCM’s sale of players to the well-established clubs in Europe. It is no secret that FCM has exported several of its academy players to the Bundesliga, Seria A and Eredivisie. Through FCM’s contacts with these clubs, new doors could open for Dempo to establish links with some of the bigger European Clubs, who will be keen to cash in on the Indian market. Dempo would provide these clubs the ideal platform to penetrate the Indian market and this will eventually raise the profile of the game in the country.

Sepp Blatter described Indian football as a sleeping giant. Well the giant may have just been woken by a passionate Goan industrialist whose love for football knows no bounds. It’s time India started taking strides towards football professionalism and this could just be the start. Mr. Shrinivas Dempo has shown us the way.