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Man City owner set to fund new MLS franchise in NYC?

Apr 29, 2013, 8:30 AM EDT

2011 US Open - Day 1 Getty Images

Brace yourselves. A soccer whirlwind could be about to hit New York City.

Rumors surrounding the possible ownership group of MLS’ 20th franchise have been circling all weekend, after MLS Commissioner Don Garber spoke recently of his hopes to have an announcement in “the next 4-6 weeks” on an expansion franchise in Queens, NYC.

Turns out Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan is the leading candidate to fund and back the league’s next franchise, with his investment group reportedly in final negotiations for NYC 2.

Reports across various outlets overnight have the member of the Abu Dhabi royal family stumping up the cash for an expansion franchise, and reveals his plans to spend plenty more as he aims for a new franchise named “New York City” to match the success of his EPL side.

More: MLS set to announce plans for 20th franchise, New York City favorite

But if the wealth of Abu Dhabi does land in Queens — Flushing Meadows Park to be exact, as plans are “hopefully getting close“ according to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg — just how would MLS benefit?

First of all, the envious glare of world soccer would fixate on NYC. Without offense to the New York Red Bulls, Harrison, N.J. is not close to Manhattan, never will be and their fan base in Manhattan and Queens is nowhere near as large as it should be. MLS execs believe situating a team in Queens and NYC proper, will put bums on seats and bring in huge revenues via sponsorship, television and other avenues. The league, not just the NYC 2 franchise, would benefit hugely from that. Plus a city rival for the Red Bulls will be key.

Do I think it will work? Yes. 100 percent. Absolutely. But there are still plenty of stumbling blocks to get through yet. So let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.

More: Expansion updates from Garber in Twitter Q&A with fans

But focusing on Sheik Mansour, he has turned Manchester City’s fortunes around by pumping billions into the stadium, infrastructure, academy and most importantly of all, the playing staff. The lure that comes with owning a successful sports franchise has begun to resonate more in recent years, with financial and royal leaders from the Middle East backing horse racing, soccer and other sports with  huge financial clout.

Mansour will not stop until NYC 2 are successful off the field, have a global image that everyone admires and most importantly, have huge success on the soccer pitch.

The deal isn’t done yet. But with Garber announcing progress has been made and an announcement within the next six weeks.

Brace yourselves NYC. The city many refer to as “the capital of the world” is on the verge of getting the premiere soccer franchise fans (and MLS) have always dreamed of.

  1. poetrylogankessler - Apr 29, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    Reblogged this on Bitácora de Logan Kessler.

  2. peoplesrepublic0fdabayarea - Apr 29, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    BOOOOO!!! Bring back the Cosmos!

    • mfishkin - Apr 29, 2013 at 9:08 PM

      The Cosmos are coming back… just back to the 2nd division NASL starting this summer using Long Island’s Hofstra as a home stadium.

  3. overtherepermanently - Apr 29, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    As long as this isn’t another Goat Turd USA, I think it is great. I sincerely hope this is a club with its own kit, colors and crest. Hell, light blue is fine, but don’t ape MCFC. Make it original. I just came back from Dubai, and UAE really thinks big enough for New York. This could work.

  4. dfstell - Apr 29, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    I think it’s wonderful news. How long do you think this ownership group (or the group rumored to be possibly buying Chivas) will tolerate things like restrictive salary caps and only 3 DPs?

    Also, think of what a nice position this is for American soccer where all the cool stuff that Orlando and San Antonio and all the other cool NASL/USL clubs are doing is “not good enough for MLS”. Imagine that….lower level clubs building soccer-specific stadia and knowing that they’ll still be in second/third tier for the time being? Very cool…..

  5. boxer1234 - Apr 29, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    I hope they choose traditional New York colors , blue and orange or maybe black and orange would be a smart choice. New Yorkers take pride in where they come from . The club should mirror the culture .

  6. mfishkin - Apr 29, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    “Without offense to the New York Red Bulls, Harrison, N.J. is not close to Manhattan”

    Times Square to Harrison, NJ: 11.8 miles
    Times Square to Flushing, NY: 11.6 miles

    They are equidistant. The psychic barrier of the Hudson River along Red Bull’s allergy to marketing is preventing NY-based fans from supporting the Red Bulls in droves. Ambivalence by the NY sports media doesn’t help.

    Just check your geography, please, before claiming that distance is the reason NY-based fans haven’t packed Red Bull Arena.

    • pmacd82 - Apr 29, 2013 at 11:39 PM

      Preach it brotha

    • Joe Prince-Wright - Apr 30, 2013 at 4:58 AM

      Having lived in Manhattan for a while, it is 100 times easier to jump on the 7 train to Flushing than it is to switch and get a PATH all the way out to RBA. And like you said the whole “mental block” of being outside NYC limits plays its part with media and potential fans.

      Also I appreciate the actual distance is similar, but I did mention that the low fan base in Manhattan and Queens is one of the main reasons a new franchise is needed. People need a stadium close to where they live, otherwise there is just far too much going on in NYC for them to go out of their way on a constant basis.

      You obviously know the area well, so do you think a new franchise in Queens would work?

  7. thetruman - May 1, 2013 at 1:26 AM

    Hey billion dollar Sheikh, we’re excited you want to bring a new franchise to NYC. We see how much success you’ve had with MUFC. You’ve spent millions building a world class roster. Oh, by the way, MLS has a salary cap, so you can really only have like 3 “star” players that would rather play in the US than in Europe.

    *click*

    Hello? Hello Sheikh?

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