City Football Group (CFG), on Thursday, have announced that they have purchased almost 65% stake in Indian Super League club Mumbai City FC. CFG CEO Ferran Soriano spoke about the group's plans, both on and off the pitch.
Speaking about the group's investment plans in grass-root football development in India, Soriano said, "Massive. This is our priority in India. We want to get kids into football early. In New York (New York City FC), we started six years ago, bringing the best coaches that we get and the best coaching methodology to coach kids that were seven, eight, and nine years old. Now they are 14, 15 and they are winning. They are winning against European teams. New York City won against Real Madrid - and this is coaching right."
He further added, "We need to approach the kids very early, cause there are some things in football that you can only learn when you are young - eight, nine years old. For example, you can have special intelligence, know the way to sit on the pitch and when to attack the space, and when not to attack the space. These are things that have to be taught very early. So we will do that for sure."
When asked about plans to bring in Manchester City down to India for a pre-season friendly, Soriano said, "We don't know yet. It's challenging. Also, when we go for pre-season friendlies in July, it rains a bit here and so we have to be careful. The plan will be to bring some of our teams here, but also take the Mumbai City team to other places. For example, last week, we have our team in Uruguay, are in Manchester, training at the City Football Academy for a week. They had the opportunity to coach under Pep Guardiola and to enjoy our facilities. We had the coach of our Chinese team in Manchester last-to-last week. So I am sure that at some point, your team will be going to Manchester."
The announcement of the deal was made at an event in Mumbai, in the presence of other members of the City Football Group (CFG) 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.
CFG also owns 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.