Manchester City FC
City Football Group’s flagship project, bought by Sheik Mansour and Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008. They have completely overhauled the entire club, turning them into a force to be reckoned with at the summit of world football. They have won nine trophies, including three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and three League Cups, but are yet to triumph in the latter stages of the one they all want – the Champions League.
New York City FC
The group’s US-based team was founded in May 2013, originally borne from a conversation between Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano and MLS Commissioner Don Garber. The latter was keen for the league to have a New York-based outfit, and discussions began. Manchester City fervently denied the initial reports in December 2012, but the official announcement was made a few months later and they were registered as the 20th MLS franchise the following May.
They immediately made huge links between the clubs, hiring former City player Claudio Reyna as Director of Football, while rising star Jason Kreis was appointed manager. The high-profile City links continued in 2016 when Patrick Vieira took over as coach of the team. On the pitch, they endured a difficult first season but have since made the MLS playoffs regularly. This season, they have reached the semi-finals again (their furthest finish), but trail 1-0 after the first leg of their tie against Atlanta United on November 11.
Melbourne City FC
Next, the City Football Group headed to Australia for the purchase of Melbourne City. Already formed in 2009 under the name ‘Melbourne Heart’, the group went about completely rebranding the club after purchasing 80 per cent for a price reported to be in the region of £9.15m in January 2014. The name was changed immediately, and Khaldoon Al Mubarak installed as the new chairman. A year later, City Football Group bought the remaining 20 per cent of the club from Holding M.S. Australia, giving them total control.
On the pitch, there was some controversy with the planned kit change from red and white to sky blue. Sydney FC were previously the only side to wear the colour in the 10-team league and they were outraged at Melbourne’s plans to rebrand in the colours famously worn by City Football Group’s major teams. At the start of the 2017-18 season, Melbourne got their way… they were able to change colours, but on the basis it was called ‘City Blue and not ‘Sky Blue’. The City Football group have turned Melbourne into one of the biggest side’s in the A-League. They immediately brought David Villa on loan and, although he didn’t play many matches, crowds increased and results improved.
Yokohama F Marinos
May 2014 saw City Football Group head to Asia to invest in a Japanese team. They bought a minority share – estimated to be around 20 per cent – in Yokohama F Marinos, creating a partnership both with the football club and with global car manufacturers Nissan – who own the other 80 per cent.
Not much has changed on the pitch, and the performances have regressed if anything. The team finished second and won the Emperors’ Cup in the year before the City Group arrived, and in the years since, they have finished 7th, 10th and 5th, and they are currently 13th this season after 31 matches.
Club Atletico Torque
In April 2017, CFG bought a club in Uruguay, expanding their market to South America. In allegedly leaked documents obtained by Der Spiegel, the group explain their decision to branch out to the Uruguayan Primera Division.
An internal presentation from the year before the purchase is claimed to have outlined the strategy, noting: ‘Uruguay is an attractive location due to the concentration of quality footballers & limited budgets of local teams’. They went on to say: ‘Torque is “preferable to MCFC” and that “it’s local & should lower player acquisition costs.”‘
On the pitch, in the regular season of 2018, Torque finished 14th of 16 teams, before winning the seven-team Group 2 league in the Intermediate Round. They then faced Group 1 winners Nacional in the final, losing 3-2.
Heading deeper into the European market, City Football Group acquired 44.3 per cent of La Liga side Girona in August 2017. This continued a previous partnership, which had seen City loan players to the Spanish side while they were in the second division. Interestingly, another 44.3 per cent of the club is held by Pere Guardiola, brother of Manchester City manager Pep and agent to Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta among other big names.
On the pitch this season, Girona sit 10th and have remarkably improved after only being promoted ahead of the 2017-18 season. In their debut top-flight campaign, they also finished 10th, and look well-placed for a similar or higher finish this time around. They have three on-loan Manchester City players in their squad in Patrick Roberts, Aleix Garcia and Douglas Luiz.
What next for City Football Group?
It has been widely reported that the company’s aim is to own a team in each continent, and they have Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australia tied up. The Group actually also have cooperation agreements with clubs in Scandinavia and with an African youth academy.
Khaldoon Al Mubarak previously spoke about the desire to add more clubs, revealing: ‘I would say that when the opportunity arises – and we are looking at opportunities – you can expect us to add to the number of clubs we have already within that organisation.’