In a landmark deal for Indian football, the City Football Group (CFG), which owns Premier League’s champion club Manchester City, announced that it has acquired 65% stake in Indian Super League side Mumbai City FC. Existing shareholders, actor Ranbir Kapoor and Bimal Parekh, will keep the remaining 35%. The deal, which was in the pipeline for more than 11months, was announced by Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) and Reliance Foundation chairperson, Nita Ambani, at an event in Mumbai. CFG’s CEO, Ferran Soriano, was also present at the press conference.
CFG agreed to sell a $500 million stake to private equity firm Silver Lake, making it the world’s most valuable football group with a $4.8 billion price tag. Mumbai City FC is the eighth team that CFG has acquired around the globe after Manchester City, New York City FC, Melbourne City FC, Yokohama FMarinos in Japan, Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay, Girona FC in Spain and Sichuan Jiuniu FC in China. “Today we welcome a global football powerhouse to India, to Indian Super League and Indian football. For the first time ever, a European club will be acquiring a majority stake in an Indian club. I am sure Mumbai City FC and Indian football will benefit from this historic partnership,” Anita Ambani said.
Soriano said that his team was convinced about the positive future of Indian football. “We have been looking at this for years. I came myself and watched many games and we are now convinced of the bright future of football in India. I am sure 10 years from now, we will be here and we will talk about a lot of people playing good football in India,” he said. Despite its riches, Soriano said it is not here to just spend money. “We are not here to lose money. We want to be profitable. It is a challenge like it has been in other places where we have teams but we have done it, mainly through partnerships,” he said.
Asked if the deal will mean big-name players coming to Mumbai, Soriano said the focus will be on grassroots. “We are not here to import anything. We will help good coaches and players. It will mean sharing experience & technology and inspiring players. We see potential in Indian football and we’re here to facilitate that. That said, players will get a chance to interact with teams under our umbrella, maybe even travel to Manchester and use our facilities sometime in the future,” he said.