Exclusive: We like to work with brands that synergize with the group and the club – Kandarp Chandra, CEO, Mumbai City FC

In a tete-a-tete with SportsMint Media, Kandarp Chandra, CEO of Mumbai City FC, spoke about the team's sponsorship, the growing popularity of the players, CFG and much more.

In the most recent and colossal developments in Indian football, Mumbai City FC, one of the highly acclaimed football clubs, unveiled a new crest ahead of the 10th season of the Indian Super League (ISL).

This development has strengthened MCFC’s association with the City Football Group (CFG) and now the ISL club’s circular crest matches with Manchester CityNew York City, Melbourne City and other sister teams throughout the group. The new crest consisted of some of the essential features of Mumbai like the rail network, Bandra-Worli Sea Link and the Arabian Sea that surrounds the city.

The unveiling of the new logo was done in Mumbai in a humongous fashion and also in the presence of Co-owners, Bimal Parekh and Bollywood superstar, Ranbir Kapoor, CEO, Kandarp Chandra, coach, Des Buckingham, CFG COO, Roel de Vries and MCFC’s first-team squad.

In a tete-a-tete with SportsMint Media, Kandarp Chandra, CEO of Mumbai City FC, spoke about the team’s sponsorship, the growing popularity of the players, CFG and much more.

1. What is Mumbai City FC’s comprehensive ideology in terms of acquiring brands as sponsors?

We don’t acquire brands, the brand needs to associate with us. Acquisition of a brand as a sponsor is something that happens in the Premier League and developed mature markets. Right here we like to work with brands that synergize with the group and the club. Maybe another question for our commercial team as to what we are looking for because they’re set guidelines as to who we want to go with. So you’ll see Mumbai City not trying to endorse something that we as a club don’t believe in.

For example, supari and pan masala, and all of those things, we don’t work with those brands because Mumbai City is not just a first team, it also goes down to what kids see us endorsing and it’s clear that we want to associate with non-controversial brands.

There could be a school of thought saying there is still our title sponsor, Stake News, that has other businesses like gambling, but those are in the legalized market spaces and it’s not something that they’re doing illegally. So, there’s a very fine line to define what’s right? and what’s not. We are not trying to promote anything, which is to be harmful to the youth of Mumbai or to India. Our target audience is and will continue to be the 12-16-year old for the next two decades. We’re conscious of that, but at the same time, we are in a business, so we have to be fairly acute about who we go to and who we don’t go to and what we are getting offered. So it’s a bit of back and forth to understand what brand we need to associate with but as a core philosophy, you like to try and work with non-controversial brands.

2. Will the growing popularity of Rahul Bheke and Lallianzuala Chhangte help Mumbai City FC bag renowned brands for the upcoming season?

I think for me, Bheke, Chhangte, Apuia and Akash, all of these guys need to help popularize the sport and reach out to the young fans because 10 years later, those eight-year-olds and nine-year-olds are going to be the fans that will have the financial power to spend to buy a ticket for INR 250 or 400 or 500.

So, I don’t see Bheke and Chhangte as people that I’m going to look to throw at brands I rather use those players to popularize the sport at this point in time in the city and country.

3. In the past few years, how Mumbai City FC have evolved or progressed on the business front?

Emphasizing more on the era of post-2019, we’re owned by a conglomerate that knows how to run the business of football.

Our main motive is of trying to popularize the sport. We’re trying to do this by playing good quality football. Once you start performing on the pitch, is when people start taking notice of you.

So business only grows when you perform well on the pitch, your fans resonate with you, and you have fans coming and watching the game.

4. Could you please tell us about Mumbai City FC’s association with the City Football Group?

CFG are our majority stakeholders, but outside of having that majority stake in the club, there’s a lot of day-to-day work that happens with them. Their intelligence is being utilized on how to manage the club, how to recruit, how to sell partnerships, how to analyze a particular game, how to grow the grassroots and how to work on the academy structure. How to leverage their experience in promoting and doing things across digital platforms, media marketing and everything.

So it’s not as if it’s just a relationship in place. There’s a lot of work that happens with them on a day-to-day basis, there are weekly calls, bi-weekly calls and fortnight calls with everyone across the group so they are completely integrated and so we are with them.

5. What are your day-to-day activities at the office on a regular basis?

It completely depends on what area of focus I need to look at on that particular day. A regular day could good start with the heads meeting that we have on a Monday or a Friday depending on how we’re placed getting an update across the MCFC group.

We have a look at what’s happening in the business across all verticals. Be it youth, grassroots, academy first team, media, marketing, sponsorship, sales, legal, finance, backend, HR resources and other things.

6. Does Mumbai City FC receive the gravity due to Ranbir Kapoor being the co-owner?

Yeah, absolutely, it does. But he is equally involved and not just the face of the club. His popularity helps us when we need it but his opinion matters that much as well.

He understood it a lot better than a lot of other people when we were looking to do this new crest and a new brand campaign because he’s from the media industry. He’s involved and his popularity works for us as a club and I don’t think we shy away from saying that.

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