Aston Villa Football Club is at the forefront of a Pop Idol-style search to find a new star - in India.
The club, along with Delhibased private football school, the Super Soccer Academy, is holding talks with Indian TV companies Zee Sports and ESPN, as well as Reebok India, to televise a footballbased reality show in India this autumn.
The winner of the televised contest, set to be broadcast to as many as three-quarters of a billion people throughout the subcontinent, will secure a place at the Premiership club's Villa Academy and be given the chance to learn the skills to become a professional.
The TV show is based on the UK Villa Wannabee reality TV show screened in Britain this February by the Asian Television Network (ATN).
In the British version, teenager Pavitar Randhawa, from Wednesfield in Wolverhampton, was picked from 2,500 hopefuls for a six-week training stint at the Premiership club's Academy. Villa's foray into India comes amid moves by UK football clubs, particularly in areas with large Asian communities, to attract greater numbers of British-Asians into professional football and through the turnstiles.
Keith Brown, a community coach with Aston Villa, Simon Rimes and Remy Bertrand, who co-ordinated the UK Villa Wannabee show, and Bill Adams, director of the Super Soccer Academy were in New Delhi yesterday to kick-start the initiative.
"We think we can unearth some talent in India as well as build up community links and see how football can be developed in India," said Mr Brown, at a youth training session for 30 boys in the grounds of a private school in the satellite town of Gurgaon about 25 kilometres south-west of the Indian capital New Delhi.
Simon Rhines said: "Villa Wannabee was a football version of Pop Idol - that's what we are pitching out here.
"We want to make it interesting to the whole family, without losing out on the football.
"The reason we have come to India is because of the ethnic background of Aston Villa. The club is based in Aston and there's a big Asian population there."
The Indian Villa Wannabee show is set to include 2,000 12-to-14-year-old boys from the cities of Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Goa and Bangalore. Viewers and professional footballers will have the chance to vote for their favourite players during the series.
Villa and the Super Soccer Academy plan to create a long-term football association that will see coaches from both groups sharing knowledge and skills to bring the sport, still regarded in India as cricket's poor relation, into the spotlight. If the show proves a hit, it could become an annual event.
Bill Adams said: "There's been a big surge in football in India in the middle classes. Indians all watch satellite channels and know about English pop stars and are increasingly copying the lifestyle, I am quietly confident this thing will take off."
The Super Soccer Academy is India's biggest children private football training organisation, with about 400 students each week. The academy also works with Indian nongovernmental organisations to provide free training to youngsters from underprivileged backgrounds in north and north-east India. Reebok India and Zee Sports confirmed they are in talks with Aston Villa and the Super Soccer Academy. No one from ESPN could comment.