Damian Willoughby: Convinced football will become a real powerhouse in India
The City Football Group (CFG) acquiring 65% stake in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) club Mumbai City FC made waves in the country ever since the move was made official at a press briefing on Thursday. The organization's stellar reputation of acquiring partial or complete ownership of clubs around the globe and nurturing them into footballing powerhouses, something which perhaps is best showcased with Premier League champions Manchester City FC's rise to prominence, is well documented and the CFG, through their representatives, have made their intent to replicate the success with Mumbai City FC very clear.
CFG’s India chapter seems to be already in motion with Damian Willoughby, the newly-appointed CEO of City Football Group India, being present in Kolkata to watch Mumbai City in action against ATK.
During a brief interview at half-time, Willoughby reiterated CFG's conviction that football will continue to grow and become a real powerhouse in the country and explained why CFG chose Mumbai City FC as their entry point into Indian football. "India has many wonderful cities but there is something magical about Mumbai. We are convinced that football can continue to grow and be a real powerhouse in India and across the Asian continent and globally," he said.
"We said repeatedly during the announcement that we generally spend a lot of time surveying and we knew that Mumbai City FC are a well-rounded football club. So, we focused on listening, learning and constructing a long-term strategy on how we will build up the organisation," he added.
Asked about his impressions so far with the team, Willoughby responded, "I haven’t really had time to interact with the team. We’re hugely excited. I’ve been watching the team play from my home base in Singapore, but it feels great to be here in person and watching a game of football."