Minerva Punjab FC, the 2017-18 I-League champions, has sold 50 per cent stake to RoundGlass Sports, another Punjab-based company. While talks were going on between the two sides for the a few months, the deal was announced on Tuesday after AIFF’s approval. The development means that RoundGlass Sports, which had its junior teams competing in regional qualifiers of the I-League, will now merge them with Minerva Punjab.
“We were thinking about selling a stake in Minerva Punjab FC and the negotiation were being held for the last two months. There was a time when we walked out of the talks but joined again later. For the last 5-6 years. Minerva Punjab FC has been close to my heart and when we got a good offer, we considered it since it will only strengthen the club’s finances,” Ranjit Bajaj, the co-owner of the club told The Indian Express.
“We were cutting our expenditure as we were struggling with finances. When we won the I-League in 2018, we had a budget of Rs 1.4 crore while teams like Mohun Bagan spent Rs 3.8 crore on one player. But we showed that titles can be won with a good team and players. Over the years, we won seven national titles in various categories and I am sure we will win more.”
Founded in 2014 by Sunny Dhaliwal, RoundGlass Sports is part of RoundGlass, a Seattle-based venture capital firm which also has its offices in India, including in Mohali. While RoundGlass Sports has been fielding its teams in the regional qualifiers of junior I-Leagues, they have never won the title in the region nor progressed to the finals.
“I know how I have managed the finances for Minerva Punjab FC and we were seeking a partner for the last three years. It’s good that RoundGlass Sports are also based in Punjab and also have a junior programme. That was also one of the deciding factors for me in this decision. Also with this merger, I will be able to spend more time concentrating on arranging finances and other aspects for the club,” said Bajaj.
The last one month saw Bajaj venting his anger on the AIFF for making the Indian Super League the top competition in the country. He also wrote to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA last week seeking intervention and also shared FIFA’s roadmap which called for the merger of the two leagues.