NYC join the MLS

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Major League Soccer this week announced that the New York Metropolitan area will get another Soccer team called New York City Football Club. They will be jointly owned by a collaboration between Manchester City and the New York Yankees.

There has been speculation for a while that Sheik Mansour was about to purchase an MLS expansion franchise for around $100 million, and this week’s announcement has now confirmed this.

The English team, which is owned by an investment group led by a member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi, Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, will be the latest foreign owner of a franchise in the New York metropolitan area. It has joined forces with the Yankees, one of the wealthiest and best known teams in American sports.

Manchester City will be the majority owner of the new club, while the Yankees will own about a quarter of the team. The pairing represents a deepening of ties because the Yankees’ stadium concessions business, Legends Hospitality, provides services at Manchester City’s home ground, Etihad Stadium. Manchester City will play an exhibition match against Chelsea on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

Ferran Soriano, chief executive of Manchester City Football Club who is also expected to oversee the hiring of top personnel at the new club said :

“New York is a legendary sports town, as well as a thriving global city with a rapidly expanding soccer fan base. We are thrilled to contribute to the energy and growth of New York City soccer. In the Yankees, we have found the absolute best partner for developing a world-class sports organization and a winning team that will carry the New York City Football Club name with pride.”

Apparently Manchester City had not considered collaborating with the Yankees on this new project. However, that stance has changed in recent weeks as the English owners decided to become partners in the deal after deciding that they could cash in on the Yankees’ political connections and experience building stadiums in New York City.

The fledgling New York City Football Club may play its inaugural season at Yankee Stadium. After that, the team hopes to play in a new stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park that the owners of Manchester City would build. Obviously for City it is another chance to expand their global brand and begin to take an active piece of New York fanbase for the Premier League.

Things are certainly becoming interesting in Major League Soccer as soccer continues to grow in the United States. The will stream matches on ‘free to air TV’ straight into the homes of 300 million Americans from next season and it is hoped that it will then provide a reflective glory on the MLS and increase interest in their own league.

The key factors in collaborations like this is the branding and the interest that this will bring on both sides of the atlantic. The marketing strategy behind this venture is fantastic. The team’s abbreviation will be NYC !! Does it get any more iconic than that in the USA or in fact on a worldwide scale?

There has been some negative views on this announcement where New York Red Bulls are concerned. People are concerned about the impact it will have on NYRB but it may actually increase the interest now there is a ‘derby match’ in New York. The gauntelet has been almost thrown down to NYRB and it will be interesting to see whether or not they seize the chance to grow their own brand between now and 2015 when NYC kicks off their campaign.

I will be watching with interest as the countdown begins.



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