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Manchester City denies MLS club interest

Dec 15, 2012, 10:51 AM EDT

MCFC owner

As statements go, Manchester City’s on Saturday regarding potential MLS ownership was as brief and to the point as it possibly could be:

“Manchester City are not buying an MLS club.”

So there you go. That was the club’s official statement.

A story had some traction here Friday – much as it could on a day when America was understandably consumed with the day’s grim news – that City was close to an agreement that would see the English Premier League gaining control of that long-talked about second MLS franchise in New York.

Reputable news outlets reported that the team owned by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan would pay MLS $100 million to purchase a club that would operate in Queens. Bloomberg, citing sources, had an additional detail that made the story even more tantilizing: that none other than David Beckham would be potentially involved.

Beckham, of course, has been open about his MLS ownership interest, although any detail past that has difficult to pin down. One element of the contract clause regarding team ownership was the stipulation that he no longer be playing in MLS. So Beckham’s recent retirement as a player from the league (although not necessarily from competitive soccer) added weight to theories that his days as owner might be “sooner” rather than “later.”

The club would operate in Queens, according to Friday’s reports. That much is likely; there probably will be an MLS club operating out of Queens in the relatively near future. MLS seems to at the “I crossing and T dotting” stage on plans to develop a 25,000-seat facility for a new team based in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, just east of Manhattan.

And the $100 million franchise fee for New York’s second team is probably an accurate figure, one that MLS commissioner Don Garber first established NYC-2 (but not for other potential new MLS markets) about 18 months ago.

So, quite a bit of the story has merit – just not the Manchester City involvement, apparently.

  1. dfstell - Dec 15, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Too bad. The only thing I didn’t love about the City news is that it was City and not United. :) I know people will get their noses out of joint about a deal like this emphasizing that MLS is minor league…..but it IS minor league compare to the top of the Premier League. I don’t see how the extra media attention of having an MLS club being a reserve club for a bunch of young EPL players would be a bad thing.

    • profootballcaulk - Dec 16, 2012 at 6:30 PM

      Not gonna argue the point’s validity that MLS is below, far below EPL but why do you think that a Premier club owning one here would be viewed as a minor league deal?

      • joeyt360 - Dec 17, 2012 at 7:01 PM

        Well, you have to ask yourself–“if a big European club opened a subsidiary in MLS, what would they be hoping to gain from it?” And it’s hard not to answer, “same thing the Atlanta Braves get out of owning the Gwinnett Braves.”

        Might not be the truth, but that’s surely what a lot of people would think.

  2. tylerbetts - Dec 15, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    Interesting that Manchester City denied they were purchasing an MLS team. But, Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan did not deny he was purchasing an MLS team.

    If marketed correctly, and done with correct pairing of the MCFC brand, it could be a potential revenue stream for City. While the two might not be officially linked, smart business men could leverage the team’s position in New York City (and, hell, with his money, why not buy the Cosmos brand name, and leverage that, too?) and be able to create some market space for MCFC to become the EPL team of choice for the growing number of Americans who love the sport, love EPL, but don’t have a team to support. If you can become the first team to truly tap the American market as a revenue stream, it can make hitting Financial Fair Play that much easier.

  3. footballer4ever - Dec 16, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    As much as this might benefit anyone else, MCFC , NY Mets, or anyone else, it won’t benefit the league to be “owned” by another team or sport and which could create a conflic of interest. IMHO.

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