West Bromwich Albion are in talks over partnering Indian manufacturing conglomerate Reliance Industries in the football equivalent of the money-spinning Indian Premier League cricket competition.
The Hawthorns club’s sales and marketing director Adrian Wright has already had initial negotiations with executives of some of India’s biggest firms, including Reliance, in a bid to agree a groundbreaking sponsorship deal for the Baggies.
The club has confirmed talks with leading Indian companies after current sponsor Zoopla decided to pull the plug on its links with the club in the wake of striker Nicolas Anelka’s controversial ‘quenelle’ gesture which some say has anti-Semitic connotations.
During the Indian trip, Mr Wright confirmed that he would meet some top corporates in the country to talk about sponsorship and a possible link.
The package includes the tie-up for the proposed Indian Super League competition.
The cricket competition, which attracts worldwide audiences, brings in hundreds of millions of pounds in sponsorship deals and franchise costs.
It is understood representatives of the Baggies have already met executives from top organisations such as communications giant Airtel, Reliance and JLR owner Tata during a fact-finding mission to the sub-continent.
A meeting with the Reliance company assumes significance as Albion are reportedly interested in buying a franchise in the Indian Super League, which is being driven by Reliance and set to start in September.
Mr Wright said: “We are going to meet some top corporate houses in India which have shown interest in becoming a sponsor. It’s in a preliminary stage but if an Indian company becomes our sponsor it would be a great development for us.
“If it happens the name of an Indian company will be seen for the first time on the jersey of an EPL club during Premier League matches,” he said after the launch of the club’s ‘Pass It Forward’ grassroot international coaching programme in India.
Under the programme, Albion would send FA-qualified coaches to train Indian youngsters from all walks of life. The club also plans to hold a Youth Football League and Street Football Leagues in India.