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Bundesliga can overtake Premier League in Nigeria – StarTimes chief

In Europe, there are  four major leagues –   EPL, Bundesliga, Serie A, and  La  Liga.  But the EPL has a monopoly  of  the market. They have  signed  good  contracts, they have access and  they pay them big money. We had to think about   other leagues. Before  the EPL,  Nigerians  were  more familiar with the  Serie  A and other leagues.  But I  believe  the Bundesliga  can   be popular  (in Nigeria) in the future.  They have  big players. So we believe  there is a big potential in the Bundesliga.  The  attendance  at the venues is enormous. You can see the pictures.  The Bundesliga also has a  big interest in  the Nigerian market, because Nigeria is a big country with  a great population,  and almost everybody loves football. Football is almost a religion. We have different events to work with. Last year, we had  an event called  the Legends Tour and we invited Jay Jay Okocha, who played in the Bundesliga (with Eintracht Frankfurt 1992-1996),  to  the event in Lagos.  And this year we brought the FC Bayern Youth Cup competition and brought the  Bundesliga   trophy to Nigeria. This shows that  the Bundesliga is  paying  attention to the Nigerian market. We have interest in them (Bundesliga)  and they have interest in us. It makes a very good point for us to work together. The FC Bayern Youth  Cup is even better because it can provide a lot of chances for young  Nigerian players. When they are selected they will get professional  opportunities. We have a responsibility to give Nigerian youths an opportunity to grow.

ou have predicted that the Bundesliga  would  overtake  the EPL and  La Liga in  terms of popularity Nigeria. Is it possible?

Yes, but it will take time. I believe they have a lot of potential.

Does your company have plans to promote  other sports?

We have a lot of sports we are promoting each day, since StarTimes  started  operations in 2010. In  the past eight years,  we have developed other sports. We have  the Chinese league, Bundesliga, Serie A, NBA and hockey. This year we bought the right to broadcast the World Cup. Every day StarTimes  breaks  monopolies. I think we have to promote  more sports.  I believe that  in  the future  StarTimes will have all channels.

It has been suggested  your company  wants to  partner Bayern Munich to set up a football academy in Nigeria. Some people believe partnering the club to hold the FC Bayern Youth Cup in  Nigeria and Africa for the first time was a move in that direction. What’s your comment?

We  have discussed the possibility of  having a Bayern Munich football academy in Nigeria. We have to discuss further details.  We need to consider how to work with each other, we have also discussed  with other football teams. But we have not concluded anything.

Apart from football do you have plans to help develop  boxing, wrestling, basketball  and other sports in Nigeria?

Yes. We are looking at boxing and basketball but we want to strengthen our hold on football. We want to go step by step.

We are working to attract interest to traditional sports in the country.  We believe we can make traditional sports popular by focusing on them. We are working hard to draw people to traditional sports. StarTimes  also has plans for the Nigerian football league and we are looking at the areas we can help. Football is the biggest sport in the world followed  by volleyball and maybe basketball. But  right now, our major focus is on football,   and we can’t say we are there yet.  As time goes on, once we improve on our football hold – either in terms of  partnerships  or even get a sponsorship from Bayern Munich,  then we can decide to go into other sports. We  will find ways to develop other  sports. We know where to go and find talents but for now we want to strengthen football.


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