MANCHESTER/ NEW YORK: Major League Soccer (MLS) has confirmed speculation that Manchester City will acquire its new New York expansion franchise, with Major League Baseball (MLB) giant New York Yankees also forming part of the ownership group.
The League’s 20th club will be named New York City FC and expects to begin play in 2015. MLS commissioner Don Garber said: “This is a transformational development that will elevate the league to new heights in this country.
The New York area is home to more than 19 million people, and we look forward to an intense cross-town rivalry between New York City Football Club and the New York Red Bulls that will captivate this great city.”
English Premier League club Manchester City will be the majority owner of the new team, with the franchise fee reported to be around US$100 million.
As an investor, the Yankees will be an active member of the ownership group. The Yankees and City have an existing commercial relationship through Legends Hospitality, an international entertainment, hospitality and marketing organisation.
“New York is a legendary sports town, as well as a thriving global city with a rapidly expanding soccer fan-base,” said Ferran Soriano, CEO of Manchester City, who will oversee the process of filling top New York City FC leadership positions in the weeks to come.
“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 organisation and a winning team that will carry the New York City Football Club name with pride.”
MLS said that New York City FC will become the League’s first club whose home will be located within the five boroughs, joining the Red Bulls as the second MLS club in the metropolitan area.
The League has been determined to add a second New York franchise to create an inter-city rivalry and the next steps will be to find a location for a new stadium. The League has been eyeing 10-acre site in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
After months of public hearings, applications and discussions, the New York Times reported at the end of April that a deal for a privately financed $340 million stadium, which would hold 25,000 spectators and could be expanded to 35,000, may be completed in several weeks.
However, the revelation of the Yankees’ involvement in the new club’s ownership group may complicate this matter with the MLB franchise’s city rival, the Mets, also based at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
MLS said the new team is arranging to play in an interim home beginning in its inaugural MLS season in 2015. It added the club’s new management will continue discussions regarding the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park plan, but will continue to review other potential sites as well.
“New York City FC will have a permanent home in the city in the great traditions of New York sports and world soccer – a home that must be a sports, commercial and civic success,” Soriano added.
“But in considering any stadium site, we will listen first. This is what we have always done in Manchester and what we will do in New York. Only in this way, can the club truly represent the city whose name it will carry.”
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