NEW DELHI (AP) – The Indian owners of English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers say they are planning to start a club and feeder academy in the western Indian city of Pune.
''We are getting an academy and a stadium in Pune,'' the Pune-based poultry giant Venky's director B. Balaji Rao was quoted as saying in Friday's The Indian Express, adding it ''will be ready in a year and a half or two years.''
Rao said the club will be known as Blackburn Rovers FC Pune and intended to play in India's professional I-League.
''We are looking to launch a team based around players from the academy. The academy will be run exactly like the Blackburn academy, with trainees starting when they are in the 11-12 age group, and train under coaches from Blackburn,'' he said.
Blackburn is also planning an exhibition match against a local team in Pune on July 22 and will field its top players like Chris Samba, Paul Robinson, Martin Olsson and Ryan Nelsen for different teams in a local tournament on July 23.
Asked about Blackburn's potential transfer targets for the season, Rao did not want to comment on any names.
''We're looking for a good striker and a good midfielder. We've a very hard time with the British press whenever a player's name gets linked to our club,'' he said.
Venky's, which is short for Venkateshwara Hatcheries, became the first Indian owner of an EPL club last year when it bought Rovers for 46 million pounds ($73 million).