SO KON PO, HONG KONG - JULY 27: Fervent Chelsea fans react to the team's arrival on the pitch during the Asia Trophy pre-season friendly match between Kitchee and Chelsea at Hong Kong Stadium on July 27, 2011 in So Kon Po, Hong Kong. (Photo by Raf Sanchez/Getty Images)
Good news for all the Chelsea fans on the Subcontinent! According to Chelsea CEO Ron Gourlay, speaking at the International Football Arena roundtable in New Delhi, the club has a long-term plan for India:
India is an important market for us. We hope to be visiting the country soon to initiate a long-term partnership. It's too easy for clubs just to fly in, play and then leave. At Chelsea we feel a fundamental responsibility to help develop the sport at grass roots level and leave behind a lasting legacy, so there would be much more to consider than just playing games here.
-Ron Gourlay; IFA Press Release
According to the the Hindustan Times, "soon" may be as early as the preseason to 2015-16:
We’ll follow a similar cycle (to the one in Malaysia, Thailand and the USA). The earliest we can get the first team down here is 2015-16. The planning we put into a tour, with our various CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities and campaigns such as Blue Pitch, starts six months before the tour.
-Ron Gourlay; Hindustan Times
Over the last half decade, Chelsea have followed a fairly regular preseason rotation, switching between North American and Southeast Asian tours, placing ever increasing emphasis on leaving a lasting legacy wherever they visit. "Here to play; here to stay" was the theme for this summer's USA tour, which included coaching clinics, youth training sessions, and the like in addition to the regular exhibition schedule.
While including India in next summer's pre-season sounds infeasible, a tour looks almost a certainty at some point in the near future.