The recent announcement that Manchester City has bought just under 20 percent of the Yokohama F-Marinos football club should not come as too much of a surprise.

By Warren Adamson

The Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Limited which financially backs Man City has also acquired Australian football club, Melbourne Heart and wants to rebrand the club as Melbourne City. In addition to these football acquisitions, the Abu Dhabi group has joined forces with the New York Yankees to form a new football club registered in the American league, MLS called New York City FC.

In buying a fifth of Yokohama F. Marinos, the chief executive of Manchester City, Ferran Soriano went on to say, “we’re thrilled to be able to play a role in investing and building on the ongoing success of YF Marinos. We are proud to offer a collaborative and integrated approach to the football, marketing, media and commercial development of all the clubs in the City family. At the same time, we are proud that each of our clubs is firmly rooted and invested in its local community as well as connected and engaged with its supporter base. We are very much looking forward to starting our collaboration.”

Even though F. Marinos is a well established team with deep community roots, they will benefit from Manchester City’s training methods, medical advice and coaching resources. Nissan will remain the club’s main backer and are happy to partner with the English Premier League champions.

“The YF Marinos is an excellent soccer club with a rich history which has grown hand-in-hand with Nissan. This partnership will contribute to the growth of the club, the club’s hometown and Japanese soccer,” said Nissan president and CEO, Carlos Ghosn.

This is the first major foreign investment in a J-League club and is sure to open the door for more investment companies to bid for stakes in various teams.

With the continued expansion into global football clubs, Manchester City and the Abu Dhabi investment group look to spend millions of pounds to compete at the top levels of the respective leagues. In January, Manchester City bought Melbourne Heart and this is what Soriano had to say about the purchase: “The league here is well organized and the restrictions that it has are positive. There are other leagues where this does not exist, and there is corruption. We are early in the history of the league, and maybe we can help develop it. We have experience in the Premier League, but Txiki Begiristain (City’s director of football) and I have been with Barcelona as well. We never considered Western Sydney. When you look at the number of people in the city (Melbourne) who like football [and] play football, [with] the number of people living here there’s enough to fill this stadium every week.”

The Melbourne Football Club have applied to change the name, colors, badge, and playing strip that will be in line with the EPL Champions.


Image: Sebra /