Stepping into another emerging football market, City Football Group (CFG), the principal owners of Premier League side Manchester City, have purchased almost 65% stake in Indian Super League club Mumbai City FC. The announcement was made at an event in Mumbai, in the presence of the CFG CEO Ferran Soriano, other members of the Group and Nita Ambani, the Chairperson of Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) who are the principal owners of the league.
The deal will see Ranbir Kapoor continue as a minority stakeholder in the club. Damian Willoughby, who is currently the Senior Vice President of Partnerships of CFG, will be taking on as the CEO of the City Football Group India.
At the event, Soriano said, "We have been looking at this for years. We have been following football in India and have been coming here, sending people to watch the games and I have also been coming here. We are now convinced of the bright future of football in India. We have been looking at the work done in the league - by Reliance and Star and it is so impressive. I say that because I serve on the board of several teams and this why I am sure than 10 years from now, we will be here and we will be talking about people playing good football in India, a very good National league and Indian players are going to be stars at the world stage, I am completely sure about that".
Co-owner And Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor sent a video message regarding the deal. Kapoor said that he was proud of such an investment and that it shows the opportunities in Indian football. He went on to add that the investment will only be an addition to the growth of Indian football, and with the investment, Mumbai City FC will look to win "everything there is in the way".
CFG also own New York City FC (MLS), Melbourne City FC, Yokohama F in Japan, Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay, Girona FC and Sichuan Jiuniu in China. Mumbai City FC will be the Group's eighth investment in a massive global outreach to promote and develop football.
Mumbai City FC is one of the founding clubs of the Indian Super League, which began in 2014. The team has seen marquee players such as Arsenal legend Freddie Ljungberg play for the club. Mumbai City has not won the league yet, and after five points from five matches, are ranked seventh in the current ISL season.