Manchester City have recently acquired stakes in Mumbai City FC. Patriot analyses if this partnership will succeed or go down the drain
On November 28, 2019, 65% of the stakes of the Indian Super League club Mumbai City FC were bought by City Football group. Now, though this may sound as any other investment, the thing that is to note is this is the same company that owns English Premier League champions Manchester City.
News of the acquisition was revealed in front of the club’s fans by CFG Chief Executive Officer, Ferran Soriano together with chairperson, Football Sports Development Limited and Reliance Foundation, Nita Ambani in front of a huge gathering of fans.
Ambani describe this occasion as historic claiming that this was the first time that any major European club is buying a majority stake in an Indian football team. This association, according to her and many football experts marks the beginning of a new and successful era in Indian football.
However, in the past there have been some tie ups of Indian teams with foreign teams and the associations have been somewhat of a damp squib.
In the ISL itself, the Kolkata team was co-owned, 35% of it by Spanish giants Atletico De Madrid. Even the team was named Atletico De Kolkata and both the teams even shared the same jersey colours. The team was even invited to practice their pre-season at their home stadium of Vicente Calderon back in Madrid.
But this partnership was not meant to be, as Atletico started losing interest in the league and the team, and according to other co-owners of the club were reluctant to spend any money on the venture. So, after a three-year association, both teams severed ties, as businessman Sanjeev Goenka bought the stakes.
In fact, East Bengal had a tryst with an English top flight club Leicester City way back in 1998, wherein they sent their under-16 boys to play in England. They even played a tournament consisting of the likes of Leicester City and Mallorca. However, Leicester were relegated the following year, and East Bengal lost interest in the player.
Italian club Fiorentina too had set a tie up with FC Pune City, the ISL club, but that teal too got quite a bitter ending thanks to the Italians’ disinterest in the club.
In fact, Pune based team DSK Shivajians, had tied up with English giants Liverpool to set up the Liverpool Football Academy in Pune amid much fanfare. The team from Merseyside even sent two of their youth coaches, and the clubs continue to share a cordial relation among themselves.
But still, we have not seen any player exchange wherein players from India go to their ground and practice. This is just a franchise in India opened by the English giants.
The football association that has managed to stay relevant has been the partnership between the Tata Football academy and Sheffield United.
Sheffield continue to invest in the relationship as youth academy coaches regularly visit India and take a keen interest in the development of some key talent that came out of the academy namely Udanta Singh, Robin Singh, Alwyn George among many others.
A visit to the Sheffield United Academy has almost become an annual ritual for the Academy lads in Jamshedpur and the city is gearing up to host ISL matches for the first time.
“If we can keep up the hard work, I’m sure we’ll see continuous improvement at the TFA. Hopefully, this will affect the whole football scenario in India,” said Dave Mccarthy, Director of Operations at Sheffield United who had worked closely to secure the deal with the Tata Group.
So, what we can see is there has been mixed luck when it comes to the association of Indian clubs with foreign counterparts. However, what differentiates Manchester City’s takeover is the fact that the City football group led by oil mogul Sheikh Mansoor, has a global footballing project having owned clubs in USA, Australia, China, Japan and now India.
We have seen previously that Manchester City tend to send their youngsters out on loan to these different clubs so that they can get more time. If a Manchester City youngster comes to India and plays for Mumbai City, it will increase the reputation for Indian football as well. Even our Indian boys can go to their academy and learn tricks of the trade thus giving Indian boys more international exposure.
Again, the Chinese club, Sichuan Jiniu’s coaching team had travelled to Manchester to train with Pep Guardiola and his team, to learn the nitty-gritties of football management from one of the world’s best coaches.
The CFG CEO has said that Pep will be in constantly in touch with the Mumbai FC management, and maybe conduct management courses. This, if it happens, will definitely be a huge boost to Indian football.
On the other hand, India is a huge market for football watchers with many fans of the English Premier League belonging to this country. So, Manchester City might just be venturing to increase their fan base in the country, as most of the EPL fans here are of clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea etc.
Anyways, if City keep their interest in their Indian project, they will do better to the Indian football, if they go on to establish themselves and build more and more academies and bring more and more youngsters to the game.