By Jonathan Copping, Sports Lawyer, Bolt Burdon Law Firm, London, United Kingdom
City Football Group (CFG), the parent company of Manchester City FC, has acquired a 44.3% shareholding in Spanish La Liga side Girona FC, increasing the Group’s ownership of football clubs to six!
In addition to Manchester City and Girona, CFG also own stakes in Australian A-League side, Melbourne City FC; Japanese J-League side, Yokohama F. Marinos; Uruguayan side, Club Atletico Torque; and New York City FC of Major League Soccer in the United States.
CFG is run as a holding company for the Abu Dhabi United Group, a private equity company, which is ultimately owned by the Abu Dhabi Royal Family.
Without doubt, Manchester City is the most expensive acquisition in CFG’s portfolio and also the club where CFG invests the most resources, largely for the huge revenues that can be obtained by investing in clubs competing in the English Premier League.
With the expansion of CFG’s portfolio, it also allows players to transfer between the clubs either on loan or permanently with relative ease. This summer Manchester City have already loaned five players to Girona, most likely in anticipation of CFG’s purchase. They also played a friendly against Girona last week.
Manchester City have previously sent players on loan to Melbourne City FC and New York City FC. Most notably, when Frank Lampard signed for New York City FC in July 2014, he subsequently signed a short-term contract with Manchester City, pending the commencement of the 2015 Major League Soccer season.
It appears that CFG may also be looking to expand their portfolio further, with the acquisition of a Chinese team. Comments made previously by Manchester City’s chairman indicated that CFG were interested in the potential of the Chinese market. Additionally, a Chinese consortium purchased 13% of the shares in CFG for £256 million.
Football is a truly global sport and CFG are developing a truly global portfolio of clubs. It is interesting to note that the clubs purchased by CFG either operate in some of the most followed and financially rewarding leagues; are based in countries where there is expected to be a substantial increase in the popularity of football in the coming years; or are located in countries that have a history of producing talented footballers.
Football, certainly, has now become a product in its own right!
Jonathan Copping can be contacted by e-mail at ‘JonathanCopping@boltburdon.co.uk’