Five years ago, the Abu Dhabi United Group, owned by Abu Dhabi royal family member Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, purchased Manchester City. In one fell swoop, the team that once played in the third division of English football was propelled to winning the 2011 FA Cup and the English Premier League trophy in 2012.
A great deal of this success has been due to the international nature of the roster The Blues boast. Currently, the team has 15 foreign players—representing Europe, South America and Africa—which has added some valuable points to a globalized status as well as an increase in the number of fans around the world.
But the owners seem to be on a mission to make the team a truly global brand.
According to The Independent, City is aiming to establish their name and concepts in China, USA and Mexico. As an aside, the British newspaper also mentioned that City refused the Bloomberg agency’s recommendation to purchase a Major League Soccer franchise.
But money has never been much of an issue to City owners. The group spent hundreds of millions of dollars last year, bringing their overall monetary loss to $126, 274,600. As Financial Fair Play rules in the EPL state that a club cannot lose more than $58 million in a window of three years, there are potential problems awaiting City in the near future.
So is going global the best decision at the moment for the Blues?
The club’s chief executive, Ferran Soriano, thinks so:
“Having returned to the summit of English football, the club has earned the chance to compete for a place as one of the biggest and most successful clubs globally in the years ahead.”
Also, to exploit the club’s brand, City have given signals that they want to add two names of impact to their roster—the Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez and Brazilian wunderkind Neymar.
These two talented players would certainly drive a great deal of South American to the Blues. Interestingly, manager Roberto Mancini has said that he does not think Neymar would succeed in the EPL:
“Neymar is a good player. He’s young. I don’t know if he’s ready to play in England because the football is totally different. I think he will go to Barcelona or Madrid where the football is more technical. But Cavani and Falcao would work in England. They have experience. Both players are 26, 27. They are good enough to play in England.”
Though four months ago, the City manager did ask for permission from, at the time, to contact and make a move toward Neymar, as the Mirror reported.
Yet, some recent negative exposure could hurt City’s image and desire to globalize their trademark.
City youth player Courtney Meppen-Walter, 18, has been sentenced to 16 months in jail at Manchester Crown Court. The sentence is due his killing of a brother and sister by irresponsible driving after driving at almost double the speed limit, according to the Telegraph.
Nevertheless, City will continue to push its brand, just as Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United have tried since the 1990s. However, for these two, attempts at garnering partnerships with other European teams was brought to a halt because it had become a distraction for the clubs
Italian club Udinese present a successful case, however. In partnerships with clubs around Europe, the Italians were recently were part of a large money-making transaction in the transfer of Alexis Sanchez to Barcelona.
The Blues are indeed looking for other channels of revenue, so much that they have considered expanding the number of seats at their home stadium, but the recent titles have not yet enlarged their number of fans to fill some extra thousand seats. Partnerships with small clubs throughout Europe and around the world have to be carefully analyzed. And only time can dedicate how successful they will become.
Time is not on the side of a team that has already doubled its loss approved by the league financial policy. Thus, concentrating on becoming a global powerhouse like Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United will have to take a more measured approach. By raising responsible and talented youngsters to reach the main team, increasing the number of trophies and building up a legacy that future generations can look upon, Manchester City will experience a growth of fans nationwide and perhaps worldwide.
But this is not something money can buy, at least for now.