For months, I’ve come across articles linking the owner of Manchester City, Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan with Major League Soccer’s twentieth team which will play in the New York borough of Queens. I figured it was like many of the other rumors about Manchester City. If it’s about money, City has to be involved. Obviously, the Sheik is the only rich sports owner in the world. Not like the Glazers could fork over the $40 million that the Montreal Impact paid to join the MLS as an expansion team nor the $100 million the Sheik is reportedly paying as an expansion fee.
But I digress.
According to the New York Times, sources close to the negotiations have said they have entered into the final stages and an announcement is likely before Manchester City’s friendly with Chelsea in Yankee Stadium on May 25th.
Take a step back people who thought Financial Fair Play or the abrupt absence of the Sheik would end the beginning of the Premier League’s Evil Empire at the Etihad. This is a move that benefits Manchester City just as much as it benefits the MLS, the Sheik and the club we’ll refer to as New York City FC for now.
Stefan Szymanski, co-author of the book “Soccernomics” (a great read which I highly recommend), believes the New York franchise could be used to help develop Manchester City’s young players. In addition to the Etihad Campus, we could be looking at the start of one of the world’s best youth set-ups if this is indeed the idea behind the purchase.
It is also likely that this a direct move to get a handle on the ledger and fall in line with Financial Fair Play rules set forth by both UEFA and the Premier League. I’m not entirely sure how this would be viewed but I’m sure getting a star player from New York FC owned by Sheik Mansour would not cost Manchester City owned by Sheik Mansour an arm and a leg.
But fear not MLS fans, the salary cap will prevent the Sheik from dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into a New York franchise. I’m inclined to believe that we’ll see a similar situation to that of Udinese Calcio, Grenada CF and Watford FC, all owned by Giampaolo Pozzo. Watford has 9 players on loan from Udinese and Grenada. Grenada has 5 players on loan from Udinese.
Scott Sinclair not getting time at the Etihad, wait until February and send him to New York on loan. Sinclair clearly makes well over the salary cap but who knows how many ways there are to circumvent that with loans. I’m certainly no economist and no expert on the MLS salary cap.
As for the MLS, they get a team that can build a suitable youth set-up and that will get a following simply from being owned by the same man as Manchester City. I know that I’m willing to call myself a supporter of New York FC, three years before they are scheduled to play their first game.