MUSCM: A Footballing Voice Which Resonates From Mumbai To Manchester

Manchester United Supporters Club Mumbai (MUSCM) is India's first official supporters club and is affiliated to England's most successful football club - Manchester United


We all know how popular cricket is in this country, but in the last few years, football has caught up big time. With the Indian Super League (ISL) breaking barriers each year, fan-following for leagues outside the country has been in play for decades now. England's top flight league - the Premier League - is widely followed across the whole country and the fans mean business. It's not your regular fan following where you watch a game for entertainment, there are fights, arguments, and much more when it comes to the Premier League. Football clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City are commonly followed out here but the fanbase one particular club has cannot even be compared to the rest. 

Manchester United — The most successful club in England, has millions of United supporters and being specific to Mumbai, we have one particular group or a supporters club which went on to become India's first official supporters club. 

Manchester United Supporters Club Mumbai (MUSCM) - Since their inception in 2007, these guys have changed how fans perceive football in Mumbai. Loud, energetic and full of passion, MUSCM is a family where Manchester United fans from Mumbai watch games together, criticise the likes of Ed Woodward (executive vice-chairman of Manchester United) together, sulk together when the team loses, win together and celebrate the great sport of football. As the Premier League kicks off on Friday, August 9 with Liverpool facing Norwich City, United kick start their campaign on Sunday, August 11 against rivals Chelsea at Old Trafford. 

Talking to Mumbai Live ahead of the Premier League 2019/20 campaign, MUSCM join secretary Karn Rateria gives us an 8-point insight on Mumbai's Red Army

The Beginning

"It began with a couple of people wanting to watch United games together. 3 - 4 became 10, and slowly the first small screenings at Avon Ruby, Dadar, began. These were the days when minimum guarantee was a huge problem and Orkut groups were strife with conversations."

People who initiated it all

"Sumit Goenka, Saumil Sethna, Srikanth Kannan, Sunil Thakur, Sahil Shah. These were the people that were there more or less since inception and during the initial growth spurt. Soon, Shyam Vador and Aditya Rathod also became key parts.."

MUSCM's take on Manchester United and the fan following in Mumbai

"Things have obviously been tough since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson (former manager), but as supporters our belief never waivers. We need some big structural changes at the club, but we do believe (and hope) we will be back at the top where we belong soon. What happens on the pitch is the most important thing at the end. The dip in form has not really affected the growth of global fans. With more easy access to clubs every year, the fan following just keeps getting bigger, as does our SC."

3 Wise Monkeys, Khar - The home of MUSCM

"3 Wise Monkeys was tried as a venue for one screening, where the president of MUSCM, Sunil Thakur, met the owner of 3 Wise and randomly had a discussion for a partnership. It didn't just stay as a random drunk conversation though, and Sunil eventually became a partner at the pub. It is the prime sports venue in Bombay, and shows almost every game, most of them with commentary even if it's a Saturday night. It was a no brainer, and 3 Wise Monkeys is a great home for us. The walls too are adorned with incredible United memorabilia."

Growth of football in India from MUSCM's perspective

"The growth of access to live games and football clubs has resulted in a massive growth for football in India. With leagues like the ISL, we saw some legends of the game like Diego Forlan, Dimitar Berbatov, Wes Brown play in our backyards. While there is still a long way to go for Indian football, the conversation surrounding it has definitely gotten louder." 

Rivalry with other supporter clubs in Mumbai

"It's mostly healthy (at least from our end!). We used to have joint screenings and football tournaments, but that culture has sadly waned off. We still meet at the occasional big screening held by say a Star Sports, and there is healthy and lively banter that's always fun." 

The moment when MUSCM got affiliated with Manchester United (officially) and how things changed post that

"We became official in 2013, and we have grown leaps and bounds, season on season, since then. We've had Dwight Yorke and the PL trophy in our pub. Meet and greets with players like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nemanja Vidic, Diego Forlan, Berbatov, Wes Brown (just to name a few!). Screening numbers have grown and members have grown year on year. And one of the best things of becoming official has been guaranteed access for our members to PL home games. In the last 3 seasons, around 300 members have visited Old Trafford thanks to this. In conjunction with Beanstalk, we also started an annual group trip to Old Trafford, which has been a massive success, and will continue this season as well for the Manchester Derby."

Current status of MUSCM and plans for the future

"We are now growing even more. The home of MUSCM, 3 Wise Monkeys, has now opened a second location in Andheri, so we have two homes and two screening venues. So even more supporters can watch games with us. More and more members are visiting Old Trafford thanks to us, and we aim to keep creating the best experiences for our members. The plan for the future is to reach more fans, keep organising memorable screening experiences, and make the dream of visiting Old Trafford come true for as many people as we can."

Fans' approach towards cricket and football is indeed different, and as football is growing steadily, groups like MUSCM create a healthy sporting culture for fans across the whole country and support the true spirit of the game. 

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