Liverpool launch first football academy in India

NEW DELHI - English Premier League club Liverpool launched their first football academy in India on Wednesday and said the club would have similar "footprints" in every continent by 2014.

"We want to have footprints in every continent in the next three years," Steve Turner, head of Liverpool FC International Football Academy, told reporters after signing a contract to set up the Indian academy on the outskirts of Delhi.

Turner and former Liverpool striker Ian Rush will also travel to China to explore similar opportunities.

"China is next and we are also in discussions for potential partnerships in South America, United States, Canada, Vietnam and also Malaysia," Turner added.

Asked why Liverpool chose India, one of the world's fastest growing economies, Turner said; "We are trying to connect with our fans and the football academy is a vehicle."

European clubs have been keen to tap the Asian market, a growing trend underlined by Manchester United's plans of a $1 billion initial public offering (IPO) in Singapore by the end of the year.

Former England and Liverpool midfielder Steve McMahon will be head coach of the Indian academy which is named after him.

Four centres are planned in and around Delhi and more facilities across the country over the next 18 months.

McMahon said the project was not "money-driven" and would hopefully improve the standard of football in India.

"It's going to take time but we are not here for a quick-fix," he added. "We are here for a long time."