City Football Group (CFG) on Thursday agreed on a deal to acquire a majority stake in its eighth club, Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL), marking a major move into Indian football. CFG will become the 65 percent majority shareholder of the club, alongside existing shareholders, actor Ranbir Kapoor and film producer Bimal Parekh who combined will hold the remaining 35 percent of shares.
The completion of the investment remains subject to the approval of certain football bodies. 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.
The CFG’s operations will now include eight football clubs and football related businesses in 13 offices around the world. The Group has expanded significantly since its inception in March 2013, and now employs more than 2,000 staff and has more than 1,500 footballers who play over 2,500 games every year. Through its Cityzens Giving campaign, CFG has also supported community programmes spanning six continents, including Mumbai in its 2019 edition.
Welcoming the City Football Group to the Indian Super League (ISL) Nita Ambani hoped to see the Indian football team play the World Cup in her lifetime, calling it a “dream”.
“I hope we can make it there one day. That’s our dream. Let’s hope Indian football can make it at the global stage, at the FIFA World Cup at least in my lifetime,” Ambani told reporters after the landmark announcement here.
“Our focus is going to be that all teams contribute to grassroots sport. We have so much talent like Sandesh Jhingan,” she said.
Echoing Ambani, CFG Chief Executive Officer Ferran Soriano said: “This is our priority number one. We want to get to kids early.”
“For the first time ever, a European club will be acquiring a majority stake in an Indian club. City Football Group is the owners of Manchester City FC, who are the champions of the Premier League. And they also own other leading clubs like New York City FC and Melbourne City FC. CGF along with all its club including Man City will now join hands with ISL’s very own Mumbai City FC. What a big day for Indian football,” added Ambani while announcing the development.
“I am sure Mumbai City FC and Indian Football will benefit from this historic partnership,” she said. “It’s a landmark occasion that celebrates the remarkable rise of Indian football and brings to life our vision for the beautiful game in India.”
“It is a great endorsement of the increasing appeal of Indian football and for all football fans in India, this is a moment to take pride in our football, our culture and the opportunity we present to the world in developing the sport. The power and potential of our youth make India the most exciting global opportunity in the world today, in every field, and especially in sport,” she added.
Mumbai City FC co-owner and actor Ranbir Kapoor on Thursday expressed his delight saying the aim is to become the best outfit in Asia. “I am super-thrilled for this day. All of us at the Mumbai City FC, the ambition is to make it the best football club in Asia and today I am thrilled to announce City Football Group’s association with Mumbai City Football Club,” Ranbir said in a video message after the announcement was made at Famous Studios in the presence of Chairperson, Football Sports Development Limited and Reliance Foundation Nita Ambani.
The owners of Premier League champions Manchester City will have majority stake while Ranbir and film producer Bimal Parekh will hold the remaining 35 percent of shares.
“With this tie-up, we hope to replicate what Manchester City has done in English Premier League and that is to win everything in front of us. City Football Group’s interest in India shows the growth opportunities the country presents in football,” said Ranbir.
Commenting on the acquisition and the opportunities it brings to all parties, Chairman of City Football Group Khaldoon Al Mubarak said: “We believe that this investment will deliver transformative benefits to Mumbai City FC, to City Football Group and to Indian Football as a whole. City Football Group is committed to the future of football in India and to the potential for Mumbai City FC within that future. We are very much looking forward to playing an active role in Mumbai City FC’s fan and local communities, and working with our co-owners to further develop the club as quickly as possible.”