English club in unprecedented £66m purchase
MANCHESTER City have been tipped to deliver a David Beckham-like boost to US football after agreeing a pioneering £66m deal to buy a franchise in Major League Soccer.
City have partnered with hugely successful baseball outfit New York Yankees to purchase the rights for the MLS’s 20th side, which is to be called New York City Football Club.
The team is expected to enter the MLS in 2015 and play its home games in Queens, with discussions in progress for a new stadium at Flushing Meadows, where tennis’s US Open is held.
New York City FC is the first MLS franchise to be owned by an English Premier League club, although Arsenal majority shareholder Stan Kroenke’s varied portfolio includes Colorado Rapids, of the Western Conference.
Manchester City are majority partners in the deal to buy New York City FC with the Yankees, who are 27-time winners of baseball’s World Series and known globally for their iconic logo.
Beckham hugely raised the profile of US football when he turned his back on Europe to sign a five-year deal with Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007, but MLS commissioner Don Garber believes City can have a similar impact.
“It’s one that I think will be transformational for Major League Soccer and soccer in America,” said Garber, who confirmed the franchise had been sold for a record fee, thought to be around $100m (£66m).
“Outside the United States, the fact we have Premier League champions, FA Cup champions aligning with 27-time world champions, it’s going to give our league exposure and credibility around the world in many ways that we were able to do with the signing of David Beckham. It’s a really big global opportunity.”
City chief executive Ferran Soriano confirmed plans to establish a separate administration at New York City FC, which would appoint coaching staff and identify players, some of whom could be loaned from the parent club.
“New York is a legendary sports town, as well as a thriving global city with a rapidly expanding soccer fan-base,” he said.
“In the Yankees, we have found the absolute best partner for developing a world-class sports organization and a winning team that will carry the New York City Football Club name with pride.”
City are currently in America for a post-season tour in which they will face Chelsea twice, in St Louis tomorrow and at the Yankees’ stadium on Saturday.
Reports of City exploring the possibility of buying an MLS franchise first appeared in 2010 and it emerged last month that an agreement was close to being finalised.
Former City chief executive Garry Cook told City A.M. last week that negotiations had been led by a marketing team that he initially placed at the Miami Dolphins American football franchise. The same marketing team had also organised City’s US tour, he said.
The deal means New York will have its own football derby, with New York City FC emerging as a local rival to New York Red Bulls, who boast former Arsenal captain Thierry Henry as part of their squad.
CAVANI TO CITY
NAPOLI have confirmed they are in talks with Manchester City over the transfer of striker Edinson Cavani, news which will come as a blow to admirers Chelsea. The Italian club’s president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, has instructed sporting director, Riccardo Bigon, to begin negotiations on a swap deal involving City’s Edin Dzeko.