Manchester City Expands its Global Footprint. Is it the end of the Champions League?

Hi everyone,Manchester City 2013-2014 4
Manchester City extends its footprint on global football by acquiring the Melbourne Heart and Yokohama Marinos, respectively part of the A-League and J-League. In the long run, what does that mean?

Manchester City, in partnership with a group of owners of NRL side the Melbourne Storm, have acquired A-League franchise the Melbourne Heart.

The move will allow the new owners to assume responsibility for all existing obligations of the Heart, effective immediately. The Storm’s ownership group will be minority shareholders with a 20% stake.

The Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano said he was excited about the opportunity to make the Heart one of the most successful soccer clubs in Australia and throughout the region.

The FFA chief executive, David Gallop, welcomed the acquisition of Heart’s licence as a huge vote of confidence in the future of the A-League.

Heart could also be in for a name change, an application to trademark the name Melbourne City Football Club was lodged by MHFC Holdings Pty Ltd on 16 January. It is still awaiting approval.

Coincidently, the Heart’s new minority shareholders and owners of NRL club the Melbourne Storm, Holding M.S. Australia Pty Ltd, have also registered the business name Melbourne City FC with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and bought the domain name

Both were registered on 10 July 10 last year, less than two months after the consortium purchased the Storm.

Neither Manchester City, the Heart Consortium Group or Melbourne Storm have indicated a name change is on the cards, only to say they will hold off from making any major announcements until mid-2014 – after the current season ends.

The same strategy was applied to acquire a minority stake in Japanese J-League football club Yokohama F. Marinos.

YF Marinos’ owner, Japanese automotive giant Nissan, announced that City Football Group (CFG), which incorporates Manchester City, and soon New York City FC will become the first significant foreign investor in a J-League outfit.

The agreement will provide the four-time Asian champion and three-time J-League winner with access to the CFG global network that consists of City, Australian A-League club Melbourne Heart and Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion franchise New York City Football Club. 

It’s essential to always see further than what there is. Manchester City will be the club with the most impactful global presence with New York City FC, Melbourne City FC and Yokohama City FC (I take my chances with the names). 

But what more can we expect from global clubs getting more and more global? Bayern Munich has now a presence in the US, Arsenal is focusing on the Asian market, Paris St Germain is growing massively in the Middle East the US and Asia, other football powerhouses such as Real Madrid and FC Barcelona are impactful on these markets as well.

With the Financial Fair Play triggering clubs irritation, could they just pull away from Champions League and setup a league of their own? After all, they won’t be needing the financial revenue from Champions League if they can generate a higher one by playing against each other.

I am not a lawyer, but could global club setup a yearly tournament in “exotic” locations such as Dubai, New York or Tokyo which will definitly attract media coverage, fans, sponsors and give a miss to the lucrative UEFA Champions League?

I attended a conference last week where this question arose and frankly, it is an option for global clubs. Is it the beginning of the end for the Champions League?

Karl Lusbec


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