Manchester City have a very unique global expansion strategy. After adding the New York City FC, Yokohama Marinos and Melbourne City FC football clubs under the Manchester City umbrella, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s club is planning to add a Chinese club to an already powerful portfolio.
The aim is to have a network involving one team with the title ‘City’ on each continent, creating unique commercial opportunities while greatly strengthening their flagship Premier League club’s identity, and China is viewed as the natural next destination.
The CSL (Chinese Super League) has seen an unprecedented explosion in expenditure over the past two months, with its clubs spending almost a quarter of a billion pounds on players like Ezequiel Lavezzi, Ramires and Alex Teixeira, marking it as the fastest growing league in football.
That follows an announcement in December that Chinese consortium CMC had invested £265m in City Football Group, establishing a link between club and country.
“Shanghai City” have been mooted around the Etihad Stadium as a potential franchise but, although no destination has yet been decided, the first steps in the plan have already been taken.
The City Football Group also envisage eventually owning clubs in Central and South America, as well as Africa, although have no interest in another European franchise due to UEFA regulations banning ownership groups from having more than one club in their continental competitions.
The idea behind the plan is that it would give the City identity a unique and tangible presence and visibility in football markets, fostering loyalty to all the clubs, and giving them more commercial opportunities as a consequence.
A one of a kind strategy that already raised some (red) flags at UEFA headquarters. This setup could lead to transfer scenario nightmares and sponsorship deals headaches for the Financial Fair Play and UEFA executives.