It is not so long ago that an Indian company Venkey took control of Premier League side Blackburn Rovers and the Lancashire club had eyes on bringing the beatiful game to the eyes of the growing number of football obsessives in a nation of 1.2 billion.
75 years after Celtic brought the first Indian player to Europe to play professional football, two others have arrived at Rangers. No doubt the trialists at Murray Park, Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua, are well-versed on the story of their predecessor in Glasgow.
The TV value of bringing the game to India is immense and Rangers and Celtic know the importance of growing their supporter base.
“If even one of Chhetri or Lalpeklua make it to SPL, the popularity of the SPL in general and Rangers in particular will scale new heights,” says Somesh Upadhyay who writes about football in his homeland. “It has a potential to add 50 million new fans at least. The fact that the SPL is telecast in India will only hasten the process. It is one of the most discussed topics among youths in India. Even in smaller towns, people keep up late at night to watch the matches.”
India is very much on the radar of the established football nations. Rangers have set up a Twitter page delivering Hindi text commentary of their game against St Johnstone. They have plans to provide future commentaries in Punjabi and Urdu.
Liverpool run a training camp there already. Manchester United have a presence also. It is said that there are 17 million United fans in India – and seven United cafes and bars. Rangers are jumping on the bandwagon.