Although Manchester City may have won the battle against their arch rivals, they are now looking to reign supreme by building a profitable international sports business, to top that already enjoyed by Manchester United.
When Manchester City was purchased in 2008 by the billionaire Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan the club was in a City was in an unstable place, however from the beginning it was clear that the club had secured an extremely wealthy owner who not only had money but also the vision to buy the success that the fans hungered for.
The next step in the transformation of Manchester City may be even more surprising as it aims to build an international network of teams spanning from the North East of England to both Australia and America. The journey that the club undertook from 2008 – 2012 is unbelievable and it was a difficult time having to convince players to join the club, however this is something that is no longer applicable.
The chief executive Garry Cook was replaced 2 years ago by Ferran Soriano from native Catalan and who had already turned around the behind the scenes operations at the Barcelona Football Club. Now that Soriano is at city his mission is to reconstruct the entire enterprise into an international company. Due to his mission many of the top players in Europe want to come on board and be part of the project.
Soriano explains that the club has a chairman and owner who understand the business and are also passionate about football, but are quite happy to rely on the expertise of their staff. With the resources that we have we can invest where needed and many other clubs have tried to create worldwide football brands but the results are still poor when compared to other industries.
The owners of Manchester City have brought clubs overseas in their bid to build that elusive brand, investing AUS$12 million (£6.7 million) in Melbourne Heart which has been renamed and is now known as Melbourne City Football Club. Playing in the famous sky blue colours of Manchester City, provides exposure to one of the fastest growing leagues worldwide. Manchester City have also embarked upon a joint venture with the New York Yankees baseball team and set up New York City Football Club, as a major push into the American market. All three of the clubs will form the backbone of a new worldwide corporate structure that will be known as CFG (City Football Group).
Soriano made a very valid point when he pointed out that the biggest European football clubs have revenues in the excess of £450 million, now think about the size of the brand in comparison with the size of the business. The challenge for the football industry is how to convert a brand that is worldwide with incredible fan association into money.
In order for Manchester City to achieve this, they have created two new divisions in a holding company to sit underneath the three clubs. The City Football Services (CFS) will be based in Manchester and led by Brian Marwood, and center around a state-of-the-art training facility. Costing approximately £200 million the new City Football Academy the complex offers a sixth form college, training grounds and will be linked to the clubs famous Etihad Stadium. The hope is that this will enable Manchester City to nurture the best young talent from all over the world and create an environment where players can be developed for all three of their teams.
By nurturing and developing home grown stars at a young age it is expected that the organization will be able to reduce the huge costs that are associated with building a world class team. Players will be offered an extensive career. The CFS will also hold a portfolio of 36 coaches and scouts around the world with 14 based in Latin America searching out the best talent.
The City Football Marketing has also been set up with headquarters in London and will promote the business, monetise the sponsors and marketing potential. Under the leadership of Tom Glick, the company will be responsible for spreading the group branding on major international advertisers who are really important for any of the big clubs. Glick has already shown his worth when the team announced a deal with the carmaker Nissan, the five-year partnership will see the name Nissan tied not only to Manchester City but also to their sister teams in Australia and the U.S.
This particular deal is proof that there is a new worldwide branding footprint built on all three clubs that will appear to the major international advertisers. The success was repeated again this month when City beat their rivals to secure a partnership deal with the Asian company QNET.
Soriano explains that the existing benefactor model in football is not working and although the City Football Group and the core team Manchester City are fortunate to have the support of one of the wealthiest businessmen in the Middle East, it is this transformation and change of direction that will ensure the long term future of the club.