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August 2021

Man City (the brand) plan to launch a football club in New York

By Tony Attwood

Few could have doubted when Manchester City were purchased and an awfully large amount of money was put in that they were going to turn football upside down.

We have seen bits and pieces of this adventure.  The development of the area around their ground.  The way their ground has been turned into a generic version of Etihad stadia the world over.  Their clear statement that they think FFP is unreasonable, and the notion that they are ready to go to court to challenge it.

But that was only for starters for now they are ready to advance in the US as well.  The owners of the club who are based in Abu Dhabi are bidding $100m to buy a New York Major League Soccer  franchise.

Manchester City have been looking at partnering with football clubs in the United States, Mexico, China and other parts of Asia, although with the same vision in mind – to develop the brand.  Within the “project” as it is known, the USA franchise is the next key move.  Already Manchester C has fixed up to play Chelsea in the Yankee Stadium on 25 May.  Now we see that this is going to be the time when Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan is going to announce the launch of their club in the States.

This will be a big project, and quite probably bigger than Manchester C.  The New York team of Sheikh Mansour will start playing in the league in 2016 and the brand will hit New York in a way that it has not hit England, with part of the aim being overturn Manchester U’s selling power in the US.  It is one thing to be able to do the deals in America as Manchester U do, but another to have a team playing in New York.

A New York franchise would also allow Manchester C to follow a model that Arsenal created way back in the 1930s – the nursery club.  In Arsenal’s case it was Margate.  Now it will be a New York team (although if the earnings are big enough it is possible that Manchester C will turn into the nursery team).  It just shows how far the owners of Manchester C are prepared to go to transform football in their own image.

Manchester City have already been copying Arsenal’s model of football schools in America, and are reported to have had a couple of hundred thousand children attend their schools.

Of course the powers that be in the USA are very keen on seeing a major player in the Premier League come to America, and the move is likely to bring ever bigger crowds to MLS games.  It would also bring in a rival to New York Red Bulls for whom Thierry Henry plays – but who despite their name play in New Jersey.

The move will also give Manchester U a run for its money in terms of sponsorship.  It might raise the amount of money each company is willing to put into the franchise – but such situations also have a habit of making people back off and reflect on what they are buying into.

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It is also possible that other teams will see how far they can push their presence overseas.  The notion of a Chelsea team entering the MLS is not impossible to conceive – Chelsea certainly won’t want to be left behind.

But there is something else.  Much of the money – about three quarters in fact – that accrues to English clubs from TV, comes from overseas.   Supposing, just supposing, that people start to get more interested in one of the spin off leagues, rather than the Premier League.  After all if Manchester C and Chelsea both purchase teams in MLS, then fans in the US who identify with these teams can in fact go and see them play live.   One possible outcome would be that MLS would become more popular in the US than the Premier League – not least because it kicks off at a time convenient to the United States audience.

And here’s another point.  By owning clubs in half a dozen countries Manchester C believe that they can overcome FFP by moving players about.  A transfer of a player between two of their clubs could be at any price they want.  Who is to say what the correct price is.

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9 comments to Man City (the brand) plan to launch a football club in New York

  • bob

    An antidote: Tell Mr. Gazidis to induce Thierry to jump from Red Bulls and head-up AFC/NYC as player/manager. There’s investment money in NYC. Then after a few years experience in charge, we’ll see if he can become the heir apparent.

  • bob

    Imo, while growing, “soccer” is far, far from capturing market share from football, baseball, basketball, hockey as a mass entertainment. The Cosmos were a hit for a glorious moment back in the day, but nothing close since. The MLS gets nothing near regular coverage, and on occasion you get the passing football score like Red Bulls 0 Toronto 0, and nothing more, which inspires little to no curiousity among the main sports fans with disposable income. I hope MLS burgeons in the US and NYC (and the very top world clubs are coming to NYC more often to do their well-attended one-off exhibition games; but there is a long, long way to go to make a dent in the long-standing habits of the larger public, to upend the perception that soccer” scoring is too few and far between to be satisfying, and to overcome the perception that it’s by and for foreigners with some strange rules. Clearly big money is making a big attempt to overcome this; but its a very steep climb among a large majority of the population (alas). Even if a lot more kids play it in our secondary schools.

  • Doesn’t Arsenal”s majority shareholder already own a football franchise in the MLS ?

    Colorado Rapids?

  • bob

    Paul Southcott,
    Yes he does, and the son is the “Governor” (their title) of the team:
    So, I guess Mr. A’s beef is that Denver is not NYC? 🙂

  • It's Grim Oop North

    Not sure there’s any evidence to back up this statement Tony –

    “Their clear statement that they think FFP is unreasonable, and the notion that they are ready to go to court to challenge it.”

    Unquestionably the vast majority of City fans want the club to trample FFFP to smithereens by any means necessary, but I’m pretty sure nothing has come from the club, so far, in fact quite the opposite, there has been quiet support for the regs, I suppose because ADUG don’t wish to be seen as troublemakers, and are probably confident they will not contravene the rules anyway if financial growth carries on as it has been in the last four years.

    FFFP regs suit City long term, and will ensure massive clubs like City and Barca stay at the top, free from real competition – to me it’s wrong and uncompetitive, but the turkeys voted for Xmas, so what can you do?

  • bob

    It’s Grim Oop North,
    What turkey would offer evidence of having voted for xmas?
    As a veggie, i vote for the turkeys. 🙂
    And I think that Stan’s owning an MLS team already casts a certain need for further explanation or clarification from Mr. Attwood on other premises of this piece.

  • Gonnerjoe

    Up north city are not a massive club in the way clubs like Barcelona and such.

  • elkieno

    Oops north: fancy using city and barca as massive clubs in the same breath!

  • It's Grim Oop North


    Massive Grin 🙂

    Off to Stratford upon Avon now for my Cousin’s wedding, wish me luck with border control as I bravely venture Down South 🙂