Skip to content

Manchester City’s global expansion: Could it hurt the MLS?

Aug 4, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT

nyc AP

In 2015 the MLS will welcome two new clubs, New York City FC and Orlando City Soccer Club. New York City FC is owned by Premier League side Manchester City and the New York Yankees, two of the most valuable sports franchises in the world.

While expanding into the most populated city in the country with a passion for soccer seems like a no-brainer, could the new franchise actually hurt the MLS?

When the Abu Dhabi United Group purchased Manchester City in 2008, they dedicated one thing to improving the club: money. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on bringing in the world’s best players, and the club has two Premier League titles to show for it.

Now the club has focused on expanding into a more global brand, gaining ownership of Melbourne City FC in Australia, Yokohama F Marinos in Japan and New York City FC of the MLS. Before playing a game in the MLS, NYCFC has made headlines by signing David Villa and Frank Lampard, two revered veterans who have compiled storied careers playing in Europe for both club and country.

These signings give New York two of the most skilled players in the MLS, but also help Manchester City’s global holdings. Prior to the start of the 2015 season, both players will complete loan spells, Villa with Melbourne and Lampard with Manchester City.

New York head coach Jason Kreis has said the team could receive up to four players from Manchester City on loan, while the English side is also eager to bring American talent through the New York system to the Premier League.

If both sides are truly dedicated to help expand soccer in America at both the youth and professional levels, then this is a great move for the MLS; but if Manchester City has ulterior motives for their own global brand and success in the Premier League, there is a problem. In a time when the MLS is doing everything possible to keep American talent home, they have invited an outsider to come poach them away.

  1. christophershearin - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    of course it is a feeder system, but the whole MLS is a feeder system for Europe. Only recently have players foregone the glory over seas for a more lucrative deal at home. Once the MLS can start poaching top talent from europen clubs (in their prime) then it will cease to be a feeder league, until then, quit complaining.

    • dws110 - Aug 4, 2014 at 7:17 PM

      Seattle Obafemi Martins from Levante (who were in the middle of a Europa League campaign at the time).

      Is Oba “top talent in his prime”? Probably not, but he was a fantastic acquisition with plenty of soccer ahead of him from a team that didn’t want to give him up.

      • dws110 - Aug 4, 2014 at 7:17 PM

        Seattle *poached* Obafemi…edit fail.

    • Ayase Yano (綾瀬市 矢野) - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:33 PM

      “of course it is a feeder system, but the whole MLS is a feeder system for Europe.”

      Now you guys will know how it feels like to be a “refill”.

  2. adelphos33 - Aug 4, 2014 at 4:51 PM

    I think this is a bit short sighted

    1) Having a high profile club in NYC helps the league. The Red Bulls are fine, but NYC can support another team, and Yankee Stadium is easy to get to. I and a few other friends have already purchased season tickets (having only attended one MLS game).

    2) Getting good players in on loan from Europe could bring notable players to the club – Americans like watching notable players in MLS

    3) If a high profile player comes throught the NYC club and makes it to Man City on a big contract, that is a huge win for US soccer – it incentivizes more youngsters to play the game longer as they age. More young people playing competitive soccer is ultimately great for MLS.

  3. renhoekk2 - Aug 4, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    Is it really poaching if they are your players to begin with? Secondly there probably will be a few Man City prospects that never make it to the Big Club and play there whole career at NYCFC or at least in MLS. How many academy players suit up for Man City on a regular basis?

  4. Vnice - Aug 4, 2014 at 5:36 PM

    Ulterior motives…like making money?

    Every club has ulterior motives. Success being tops among them. MLS will be a feeder leagues for many years but that’s not such a bad thing. Truth is, most leagues are feeder leagues to the select elite teams in the world.

    This isn’t Chivas pt. 2. Man City isn’t stupid, and they wouldn’t risk American revenue by alienating or endangering their American side and fan base.

  5. dws110 - Aug 4, 2014 at 7:13 PM

    There is no definite article.

  6. mith242 - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:04 PM

    I think the bigger problem will be Man City using this whole system to get around the financial fair play.

    • reitoei89 - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      Bigger problem is how they expect to bring players here on loan and keep under the sal cap. Even reserve guys at Man City make way more than top paid (non DP) guys in MLS.ary

      • mvktr2 - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:20 PM

        Clearly you weren’t paying attention to Julio Cesar being on TFC’s roster while TFC already had 3 DPs on the roster. QPR picked up the majority of his salary (a few million) while TFC paid something like 200-250K, substantially below DP status. To be clear if a player makes 1 mil in a contract with his mother club, is loaned out to an MLS team, the salary payments are negotiated as they are in all such transactions between leagues around the world. If the mother club pays 800K of the 1 mil salary and the MLS club picks up 200K the player is not a DP as all that matters is the amount the MLS club is responsible for.

        Kreis has alluded to bringing in as many as 4 MCFC academy/U23 players. Who knows what the future holds but they’ll play within the rules and if MCFC gain a significant competitive advantage via such loans in time I’m sure the league will address it to maintain parity.

      • gazza305 - Aug 6, 2014 at 4:24 AM


        Clearly you weren’t paying attention to MLS when they stated foreign clubs can loan players to MLS clubs they have a financial interest but the players’ FULL SALARY hits the cap. So reitoei89 is right. Man City players would almost all be DP’s if loaned to NYCFC.
        The rule was put into place for Chivas USA and now affect Red Bull New York, Colorado Rapids along with CUSA.

  7. rphillish - Aug 4, 2014 at 10:11 PM

    I’ll stay on the fence until the club actually takes form and starts playing. I think every fan of the league needs to be concerned about this though. Will this team really be a part of it’s community, building the sport and the players, or will it just be a cog in the Man City machine? I think we also need to be concerned about what type of pressure will this ownership group be putting on the league. I think most fans would like to see the league put pressure on teams boost their academies. Will City push back against this? What about salary caps? How much freedom do these owners want, and how much are they going to fight for it behind the scenes?

    • jerichowhiskey - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      On the community front, I’d be worried about how much their stadium will cost the city…

      • reitoei89 - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:08 PM

        I’d be more concerned about the community response to the owner. See what happened at the Be very Hills Hotel when people learned it was owned by the Sultan of Brunei?

  8. rjbailey - Aug 5, 2014 at 8:17 AM

    Reblogged this on Locating Frankenstein's Brain.

  9. granadafan - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Right now the MLS is still a “minor league” to Europe. There’s no getting around that until the money and sponsors make the league a competitor to the Big 4 sports in the US.

  10. ftlfan - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    I just think it’s embarrassing for MLS to now have two teams in one of biggest cities, if not THE biggest city, in the world, with a great sports tradition, and neither is anything more than a billboard for some foreign entity. And yes I’m counting the Red Bulls as part of the city, nobody has a problem support the New York Jets or Giants in Jersey.

    How can you expecting New Yorkers to take pride in an Austrian energy drink promo or Manchester, England? Stupid.

    If I was a New Yorker I’d have to be a Cosmos supporter. Their stadium and location might not be great and they’re in the 2nd division, but at least that’s a tradition and brand built in New York, not Europe.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Premier League, Week 3 review