City’s Etihad Stadium (Getty)

(WFI) Manchester City’s owner announces that a Chinese consortium has invested $400 million to buy a 13 percent stake in the club.

City Football Group (CFG) is now valued at $3 billion after selling the stake to CMC (China Media Capital) and investment company Citic Capital. It followed six months of discussions “to find the optimum model and associated strategies for the partnership”.

The deal will see new shares issued in City Football Group in addition to the ones held by the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), the investment and development company owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The move is part of the Premier League club’s plans to grow the club’s fanbase in China and capitalize on new revenue opportunities in the world’s fastest-developing football market. China’s president Xi Jinping visited Manchester on his visit in October.

CFG also owns MLS club New York City FC and Melbourne City FC who play in Australia’s A-League.

“The deal will create an unprecedented platform for the growth of CFG clubs and companies in China and internationally, borne out of CFG’s ability to provide a wealth of industry expertise and resources to the rapidly developing Chinese football industry,” said a statement on the club’s website.

CMC and CITIC Capital representatives and officials from Manchester City’s ownership have already held talks “to identify and implement China-based initiatives for the CFG portfolio of clubs”.

Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of City Football Group said that in China “the exponential growth pathway for the game is both unique and hugely exciting.

“We have therefore worked hard to find the right partners and to create the right deal structure to leverage the incredible potential that exists in China, both for CFG and for football at large,” he said.

“Our partners have an incredible track record of creating value and could not be better placed to help us further evolve City Football Group. Our belief is that we now have an unrivalled platform to grow CFG, our clubs and companies both in China and internationally and we will be working hard with our new partners to realise the potential that this deal creates.”

Ruigang Li, chairman of the investment group CMC, said the Chinese football market “is now at a fascinating and critical stage of development”.

“We see unprecedented growth opportunities in both its development as an industry, being China’s most watched sport, and its inspirational role bringing people of all ages together with a shared passion.”

He added: “With its unique business model and distinct successes, City Football Group, whom we have come to know well, represents a differentiated systematic approach to building a global platform for football know-how, player development, academy programmes and commercial partnerships that will benefit China’s football industry on multiple levels.”

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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