Man Capital buys new Major League Soccer franchise in San Diego for record £400m
London-based Man Capital has been confirmed as the owner of a new San Diego franchise in Major League Soccer after agreeing a record deal with US football chiefs.
The family office of Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Mansour, the Conservative Party senior treasurer, is understood to have paid around $500m (£402m) for the team, who will begin playing in 2025.
That easily eclipses the previous highest MLS expansion fee of $325m (£261m), paid by the owners of Charlotte FC to join the league last year, and is more than the £305m that Newcastle United cost a Saudi-led consortium in 2021.
“We are thrilled to welcome San Diego to Major League Soccer as our 30th team,” said MLS commissioner Don Garber.
“For many years we have believed San Diego would be a terrific MLS market due to its youthful energy, great diversity and where soccer is an essential part of everyday life for so many people.
“Mohamed Mansour and the Sycuan Band have an incredible vision for building a club that will inspire and unite soccer fans throughout the city and region.”
Man Capital, which is also the second largest shareholder in Caffe Nero, is joined in the ownership group by indigenous tribe Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and Major League Baseball star Manny Machado, who plays for the San Diego Padres.
The as-yet-unnamed team is set to join the Right to Dream network of football clubs and academies which was established in Ghana by English coach Tom Vernon and majority owned by Mansour since 2021.
Mansour said: “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the Sycuan Tribe to bring Major League Soccer to such a deserving community and legion of San Diego soccer fans. This is a real opportunity to create a powerful and lasting legacy for the city and region.
“We look forward to introducing Right to Dream’s unique developmental approach and unparalleled soccer expertise to San Diego and MLS by delivering tangible benefits to the community as we look to open doors and identify and nurture talent from across the county and beyond.”
Former Manchester United scout Vernon, who led Right to Dream’s 2016 takeover of Danish side FC Nordsjaelland, will also be part of the San Diego ownership group.
They plan to implement Right to Dream’s philosophy of creating socially conscious footballers, which is central to its projects in Accra, Denmark and Egypt.
Man Capital intends to build a school and academy in the San Diego area which, added to expenditure on staff and players, could take the investment past $700m (£562m).
The California franchise is the 30th in MLS and will play their home matches at the 35,000-seater Snapdragon Stadium, which belongs to San Diego State University.
Former Los Angeles FC president and co-owner Tom Penn, also a former executive at the NBA, has been named CEO of the San Diego franchise.
Football is enjoying a boom in the US, which is set to stage the majority of the next World Cup in 2026, along with co-hosts Mexico and Canada.
MLS franchises have soared in value, with some estimated to be worth $1bn (£800m), while the league has a 10-year media rights deal with Apple TV worth $2.5bn (£2bn).
US teams have increasingly become attractive partners for European clubs seeking a foothold in a fast-growing market and a relatively untapped player pool.