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'Feel Like I'm in New York': Manchester City Owners Explain Reason Behind Mumbai City FC Deal

Owners of Premier League champions Manchester City, the City Football Group agreed to buy a 65 percent stake in Indian Super League side Mumbai City FC.

News18 Sports

Updated:November 28, 2019, 7:25 PM IST
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'Feel Like I'm in New York': Manchester City Owners Explain Reason Behind Mumbai City FC Deal
FSDL chairperson Nita Ambani and Ferran Soriano (Photo Credit: ISL)

Mumbai: Mumbai City FC became the eight club to become a member of the City Football Group (CFG) on Thursday after the Manchester City owners agreed on a deal to acquire a majority stake in the club Indian Super League (ISL) team.

The CFG will own 65 percent majority shareholder of Mumbai City FC, alongside existing shareholders, actor Ranbir Kapoor and film producer Bimal Parekh who combined will hold the remaining 35 percent of shares.

"We have been looking at the ISL and Indian Football for over 18 months and we have been sending scouts. We have a good view of the status of Indian football. Now, we need to know more about the club. This was more of a secret till today so now we can go and meet our colleagues at the club and we want to take our time. My colleague Damian is going to be leading our operation in India and he's shifting to India today. He will meet and get to know everyone and make a plan in three months' time. The plan will include immediate actions that has to come into effect maybe next season but also long-term plan on how we can help Mumbai City in the next decade," Khaldoon Al Mumbarak, Chairman of City Football Group, told reporters.

When asked about their reason behind their decision to choose Mumbai as a city to invest in, Khaldoon explained: "The best explanation is Mumbai is a fantastic city. I come here and feel like I'm in New York. In New York we have been very successful, where we started with nothing six years ago. Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city with people of many cultures."

Khaldoon Al Mumbarak also clarified that the deal will not necessarily mean that Mumbai City will be flooded with foreigner stars at the cost of Indian players.

"We are not here to import anything, we are here to unleash the power of Indian football, maybe you don't realise how much power is already there. There are good players and a good culture and we mean to help them. By help means for us sharing experiences we have in many other football nations, sharing technology, inspiring them, that's what we aim to do, to help people who are already there grow. Maybe we will bring people from there, for sure, but ultimately we want to help," Khaldoon said.

When plans City Football Group would have for the future generations and the growth of football in India, Khaldoon explained: "We want to get to kids early. We have seen this in New York, where we brought the best coaching methodology to teach kids 7, 8, 9 years old and now they are 14-15 and are winning. New York City wins against Real Madrid - that is coaching. We need to reach kids very early because there are some things in football which you can only learn when you are young, for example, spatial intelligence."

Damian Willoughby too echoed the views, saying that Mumbai City will change and morph into a style similar to the clubs of the CFG.

"We have a uniform way of playing that has been there across the group, which is expansive and attacking and attractive. The philosophy and approach will be the same here. We need time to understand the fan base and see how we can connect," said Damian Willoughby, CEO of City Football Group India.

When asked when the fans in India can see Indian in other leagues, Khaldoon explained: "We will have an exchange program, but how, we are yet to figure out. The immediate goal is to play good beautiful, wins will come one day."

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