City Football Group

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City Football Group Limited
Holding company
Sports services
FounderHH Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Khaldoon Al Mubarak
Key people
Khaldoon Al Mubarak
Ruigang Li
Brian Marwood
Ferran Soriano
Tom Glick
Egon Durban
RevenueIncrease GB£584.791 million[1] (2018)
Decrease -GB£34.557 million[1] (2018)
Decrease -GB£43.594 million[1] (2018)
Total assetsIncrease GB£804.147 million[1] (2018)
OwnerAbu Dhabi United Group (78%)
China Media Capital/CITIC Capital (12%)
Silver Lake (10%)
Number of employees
1,047[1] (2018)
SubsidiariesManchester City F.C. (100%)
Melbourne City FC (100%)
Montevideo City Torque (100%)
New York City FC (80%)
Mumbai City FC (65%)
Lommel S.K.
Girona FC (44.3%)
Sichuan Jiuniu F.C. (28%)
Yokohama F. Marinos (20%)
City Football Academy
City Football Marketing
City Football Services
City Football Japan
City Football Singapore
City Football China
City Football India
CFG Stadium Group
Goals Soccer Centers
WebsiteOfficial website

The City Football Group (CFG) is a holding company that administers association football clubs under the ownership of Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG).[2] It is part-owned by the American firm Silver Lake[3] and Chinese firms China Media Capital and CITIC Capital.[4]

The company's flagship club is Manchester City F.C. in the English Premier League. It also owns stakes in clubs in the United States, Australia, India, Japan, Spain, Uruguay, China and Belgium. The company's original aim was to own a team on each continent, each with the identifier "City" in its name.[5]


Manchester City F.C.[edit]

The Abu Dhabi United Group was founded in the summer of 2008, as Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan looked to take over Manchester City Football Club from the former Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra.[6] The Abu Dhabi United Group was set up in order to facilitate the purchase of the Premier League club.

After its takeover, Manchester City launched into a complete overhaul of all departments, intent on rising to the top as fast as possible. On the pitch, the following seasons saw the team replaced under the management of Mark Hughes[7] and then a second time under Roberto Mancini as the lobbying of established UEFA Champions League clubs in the Premier League[8][9] forced the Manchester team to act quickly in order to achieve Champions League status before the newly implemented Financial Fair Play Regulations made it inviable for teams to spend outside of their earnings in an attempt to move up the table. Meanwhile, off the pitch City spent £10 million on revamping their Platt Lane academy base[10] as they formulated plans to produce a £100m training and academy facility on land opposite their stadium, studying training facilities around the world in an attempt to create the world's foremost development in its field.[11][12] This came in conjunction with the announcement in 2014 that they had received planning permission to increase their stadium capacity to over 62,000, making it the second largest club stadium in England.[13] Further investment came in the field of fan engagement, where City committed themselves to a policy of winning the global popularity contest with a mass display of social media.[14][15][16] Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Manchester City have been coached by former FC Barcelona player and coach and FC Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola.[17]

Under Mansour's leadership, Manchester City Football Club have currently lifted the 2011 FA Cup, 2019 FA Cup, 2011–12 Premier League, 2013-14 Premier League, 2017-18 Premier League, 2018-19 Premier League, 2012 FA Community Shield, 2018 FA Community Shield, 2019 FA Community Shield, 2013–14 Football League Cup, 2015-16 Football League Cup, 2017-18 Football League Cup, 2018-19 EFL Cup and the 2019-20 EFL Cup.

Manchester City Women[edit]

Although Manchester City Women had existed since 1988 (previously under the name Manchester City Ladies F.C.) they existed solely as an affiliate of the club until August 2012, with few shared resources and with CFG enjoying no control over the club's management. After four years of control of the men's side in Manchester, the Abu Dhabi United Group - progenitors of City Football Group - elected to bring the women's team under their aegis also, forming a partnership with the club which would effectively make it a department of Manchester City F.C.[18]

Very soon after taking control of the club, ADUG announced their intention to support their women's department as they had supported the men, relaunching the club as Manchester City Women's Football Club[19] and successfully lobbying for the team to be added to the top tier of the FA Women's Super League when it was expanded, fuelled by promises of levels of support and funding not usual in women's football in the UK. Their support was rapidly repaid, with their radically reshaped team producing a first major trophy in the 2014 FA WSL Cup[20] before narrowly missing out on a league triumph the following season.[21]

New York City FC[edit]

When Ferran Soriano was appointed Manchester City CEO in August 2012, Don Garber reached out to him about a New York City FC team,[22] having previously held discussions with him in his former capacity as Vice President of Barcelona.[23] In December 2012, unnamed sources told the media that Manchester City were close to being announced as the new owners of the 20th team of Major League Soccer (MLS), and the brand name "New York City FC" was trademarked, although the club quickly denied the report.[24] Garber announced in March 2013 that he was almost ready to unveil the new expansion team[25][26] and on 21 May New York City FC was officially announced as the 20th MLS franchise.[27] Linking the club to its English parent, the new MLS side hired as its first employee former Manchester City, MLS and US national team player Claudio Reyna to serve as Director of Football,[28] while a statement of intent was made with the signing of home-grown rising star manager and MLS Cup winner Jason Kreis to serve as the team's first head coach.[29] In 2016, Manchester City's academy manager Patrick Vieira moved to New York City FC to manage NYCFC.[30]

Melbourne City FC[edit]

The group's ownership of the club was announced on 23 January 2014, with the news that Manchester City had acquired the then-named Melbourne Heart for $12 million. After several days of talks in Melbourne and Sydney, City's senior executives completed the deal which saw them own 80% of the Australian club. City Football Group bought the other 20% that was held by a consortium of businessmen allied to Australian rugby league club Melbourne Storm.[31]

The takeover of the Australian A-League club came only days after an application to trademark the name "Melbourne City Football Club" was lodged on 16 January. Melbourne Heart's minority shareholders also registered the business name "Melbourne City FC" with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and bought the domain name "".[32] In August 2015, City Football Group bought out the sports consortium to acquire 100% ownership of the club.[33]

Melbourne City Youth[edit]

As part of the expansion of the National Premier Leagues Victoria 1 (now known as NPL Victoria 2), Melbourne City had an application accepted to field a team based around their now-defunct Youth side in the competition along with five additional new entrants. On 6 December 2014 they announced the creation of their NPL team, which began competition in the 2015 season.[34]

Melbourne City Women[edit]

Following the success of their investment in Manchester City's women's team, CFG announced their continued support of women's football with the creation of a women's department in Melbourne in 2015 which was accepted as an expansion team in the W-League.[35]

Facing a league bereft of meaningful investment, CFG's support of their team produced a clean sweep of the board, with their women's team going unbeaten as they won both the league and the play-off series at the first time of asking in the 2015–16 W-League,[36] setting a series of club and player records as they went.[37]

Yokohama F. Marinos[edit]

On 20 May 2014, it was announced that City Football Group had invested in a minority share of Yokohama F. Marinos, creating a partnership with both the football club and car manufacturer Nissan.[38] City Football Group is estimated to hold 20 percent of Yokohama F. Marinos' existing shares, but through the establishment of a Japan-based subsidiary may seek to eventually own a controlling stake in the club.[39]

Montevideo City Torque[edit]

On April 5, 2017, CFG announced that it had acquired Club Atletico Torque, a club in Montevideo currently playing in the Uruguayan Primera División.[40]

Name change and return to the Primera División[edit]

On 22 January 2020 it was announced that Club Atletico Torque had changed their club name to Montevideo City Torque, with an accompanying change in team badge.[41] The name and badge were chosen to be reflective of their links to Manchester City and the other clubs of the City Football Group.[41] At the same time it was announced that the club would begin work on the construction of a new academy and administrative complex, intended to be one of the most advanced academy centres in South America.[42]


On August 23, 2017, it was announced that the City Football Group had acquired 44.3% of La Liga side Girona. Another 44.3% was held by the Girona Football Group, led by Pere Guardiola, brother of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola.[43] Girona had previously been loaned a number of players by Manchester City while they were in the Segunda División, in what was seen by some as an attempt to attract Pep Guardiola to Manchester City.[44][45] In August 2018, Girona had two loanees, both 21 years old, from Manchester City.[46]

Girona B[edit]

In line with the Spanish standard of major teams operating B-teams as development squads for younger players, Girona owns a subsidiary team named simply Girona B, following the incorporation in 2011 of the formerly independent side CF Riudellots.[47] At the time of the purchase of Girona by CFG, the club operated in the Segona Catalana division, the sixth level of football in Spain. As an official B-team Girona B is ineligible for promotion to a higher division than any other Girona-affiliated side above them in the leagues. Nor is it eligible to play in any cup competition in which Girona themselves already compete.

Girona additionally operated a primary B-team - CF Peralada-Girona B - although this team was merely in partnership with Girona and neither Girona nor CFG had any ownership stake in the club. In 2019, the affiliation with Peralada was terminated as they were relegated to the Tercera División.[48]

Girona FC Femení[edit]

Although Girona FC operated a senior women's team for a number of years, financial constraints had forced them to cease operations at the senior level in 2013[49] and by 2017 the Catalan club operated just 3 junior teams with a total of 41 youth players in their system.[49] Barely two months before CFG bought into the ownership of Girona FC, the club announced an expansion of its female set-up, including the restoration of the senior women's team, to start competing in the fifth tier of women's football in Spain.[49]

Sichuan Jiuniu[edit]

On 20 February 2019, it was announced that the City Football Group as well as UBTECH and China Sports Capital had acquired Sichuan Jiuniu F.C..[50]

Mumbai City FC[edit]

City Football Group was announced as majority stakeholder of Mumbai City on Thursday 28 November 2019 after acquiring 65% of the club.[51] Mumbai City FC is a professional football club based in Mumbai, competing in the Indian Super League.

Mumbai City FC Reserves[edit]

Mumbai City FC Reserves were announced to be competing for the first time in the I-League 2nd Division, the Second tier of Indian football.[52]

Lommel SK[edit]

City Football Group was announced as majority stakeholder of Lommel SK on Monday 11 May 2020 acquiring the majority (unspecified) of the shares of the club.[53] Lommel S.K. is a professional football club based in Lommel, competing in the Belgian First Division B (second tier).

Future clubs[edit]

When addressed in interviews both internal and external, senior City Football Group personnel have made no secret of their continued plans for the expansion of the group, with group chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak commenting that "I would say that when the opportunity arises - and we are looking at opportunities - you can expect us to add to the number of clubs we have already within that organisation".[54] Although those personnel will rarely be drawn on the exact locations in which they are looking, it has been commented that CFG aim at the least to have one team on each continent,[5] with links to a potential Chinese team particularly strong following a £265m investment in the group by two Chinese companies,[4] while India has been suggested by Tom Glick, the group's chief commercial officer.[55] City Football Group were courted for investment by John Comitis, owner of Cape Town City F.C. and previous engineer of the working relationship between Ajax and Ajax Cape Town,[56] though CFG themselves did not comment on the link and no such partnership ultimately emerged.

CFG have previously been linked with investment into European sides AS Saint-Étienne,[citation needed] Estoril[57] and Boavista.[58]

It was reported on July 13, 2017 that Ecuadorian Serie A club River Ecuador F.C. had been bought by CFG following the club announcing that they had rebranded as Guayaquil City F.C..[59] No statement of confirmation was issued by CFG themselves, and after several days the main source advocating the link - MKT Esportivo - deleted their article following a wave of journalists denying the link on social media.

Shortly after investing in Chinese club Sichuan Jiuniu, Ferran Soriano admitted in March 2019 that CFG were considering investing in an Indian club by the end of the year, and that it was likely that a further two or three clubs could join the group within the next decade.[60] In the same press conference, however, he also admitted that CFG were not considering any further acquisitions of European clubs as their focus was on long-term investment in countries where football was likely to grow in popularity, such as in India, as opposed to established markets.[61][62]

On 24 May 2019, it was reported that CFG have expressed an interest to buy a Malaysia Super League club after Ferran Soriano visited Malaysia Sports Minister Syed Saddiq at his office in Putrajaya [63][64] This was refuted in the following days.[65]

On May 2020, it was reported that CFG also has expressed an interest to buy a Russian Premier League club.


Goals Soccer Centers[edit]

On 25 July 2017, City Football Group signed a joint venture partnership with Goals Soccer Centres, a 5-a-side football pitch operator, to invest capital into the US operations of the company in order to expand across North America.[66] On 3 February 2020, CFG purchased the remaining 50% to take full ownership of the joint venture[67] - operating under the Americanised name Goals Soccer Centers - following the near-collapse of their partner as a result of historic fraud allegations.[68]

Honours achieved under CFG ownership[edit]

The following senior-level trophies have been won by City Football Group teams while under the ownership and control of the group. Trophies won before inclusion in the City Football Group are not counted in this section:

List by club[edit]

Table of honours won[edit]

Team Seasons under CFG Domestic Continental Total
League Playoffs series Cup Super Cup Minor1 Cup Super Cup
Spain Girona 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Spain Girona B 3 0 1 1
Spain Girona FC Femení 3 0 0 0 0 0
Belgium Lommel 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
England Manchester City2 12 4 7 3 0 0 0 14
England Manchester City EDS3 3 0 0
England Manchester City Women 6 1 5 0 0 6
Australia Melbourne City 7 0 0 1 0 1
Australia Melbourne City NPL 6 0 0 0 0
Australia Melbourne City Women 5 2 4 0 6
Uruguay Montevideo City Torque 4 0 0 2 0 0 2
India Mumbai City FC 1 0 0 0 0 0
India Mumbai City FC Reserves 1 0 0
United States New York City FC 6 0 0 0 0 0
China Sichuan Jiuniu F.C. 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan Yokohama F. Marinos 7 1 0 0 0 0 1

1 Includes lower league titles plus any cups not available to top division clubs, but does not include cups considered non-competitive for statistics purposes (such as pre-season competitions or local FA tournaments habitually contested by reserve sides)
2 Includes titles won while under control of City Football Group personnel, but before the creation of the company itself
3 Although the EDS have operated as Manchester City's reserve team for considerably longer than CFG have owned the club, they only began competing in a senior competition in 2017–18 when they were given a place in the EFL Trophy.

Intra-Group matches[edit]

Though City Football Group has existed for a number of years, competing schedules and priorities have limited the number of occasions on which CFG teams have been able to contest matches against each other. The following record lists the games played between CFG teams while both have been under common ownership:

15 August 2017 FriendlyGirona Spain1–0England Manchester CityGirona, Spain
18:00 WET Portu Goal 13'
García Yellow card 62'
B. Silva Yellow card 73' Stadium: Estadi Montilivi
Attendance: 10,235
Referee: David Medié Jiménez (Spain)
27 July 2019 (2019-07-27) FriendlyYokohama F. Marinos Japan1–3England Manchester CityYokohama, Japan
19:30 JST Endo Goal 23', Yellow card 29'
Park Yellow card 36'
Report De Bruyne Goal 18'
Sterling Goal 40'
Nmecha Goal 90+2'
Stadium: Nissan Stadium
Attendance: 65,052

Affiliated clubs[edit]

Player development/recruitment partners[edit]

Manchester City have had a series of agreements with clubs to whom they can loan youth players from non-EU countries who otherwise would need to serve five years of residence in the UK to earn an EU passport granting them the ability to play in England without needing a work permit. Primarily the countries of Benelux and Scandinavia are viewed as the shortest way of achieving this. Following various developments and in the aftermath of Brexit obtaining EU citizenship for players is less relevant to CFG, but CFG retain an active relationship with NAC Breda for the development of youth talents.
CFG signed a collaboration agreement with Atletico Venezuela of the Venezuelan Primera Division in April 2017. The scouting agreement enabled both parties to share scouting data, and also included the provision of coaching support to Atletico. Venezuelan midfielder Yangel Herrera has signed for Manchester City[70] from Atletico Venezuela and been loaned to New York City FC.[71]

Defunct partnerships[edit]

CFG had a partnership with the Ghanaian FA whereby each season their respective technical staff pool knowledge related to training players.
Shortly before CFG bought a stake in Girona FC, Peralada - who had previously signed a five-year partnership to become a development feeder for Girona - formalised their status with their parent club to become an official B-team, and renamed themselves by adding -Girona B to their club name. However, Girona owned no part of the club and their relationship extended no further than their co-operation agreement. The partnership with Peralada lasted until 2019, when both Girona and Peralada were relegated from their respective divisions but Girona FC C played out a promotion challenge. With Peralada to be playing at a lower level - and potentially at the same level as Girona FC C - a decision was made that the partnership no longer had merit for the parent club.[74]
City Football Group had a partnership with the Right to Dream Academy which allows them to cherry-pick the best talent from the academy once players graduate. The last intake of players received by Manchester City was in 2015.
As a condition for their continuing existence in Major League Soccer, New York City FC along with all MLS clubs are expected to either affiliate with or own and operate a club competing in the United Soccer League. Rather than opting to field their own B-team, NYCFC signed an affiliation deal with Wilmington Hammerheads of North Carolina. The affiliation was extended for the 2016 season, and ended when the Hammerheads self-relegated to the amateur Premier Development League on September 29, 2016.[79]
NYCFC signed a partnership agreement with Long Island Rough Riders of the Premier Development League in April 2016.
NYCFC signed an affiliation deal with San Antonio FC of Texas in 2017, replacing their previous partnership with the Wilmington Hammerheads. Their association involves close cooperation on training and player scouting, as well as a league-mandated commitment for at least four players to be loaned to the USL side.

Principles and interests[edit]

The City Way[edit]

Mirroring CFG's dedication to an identifiable cross-club brand via similar kits is the principle of the City Way, a concept whereby all teams which play under their banner, regardless of continent or competition, can be seen to play according to a prototype style based on passing, possession and attacking philosophy[82] largely derived from the tactics used by Barcelona when under the control of now-Manchester City trio Pep Guardiola, Ferran Soriano and Txiki Beguiristain.[83] While the City Way has come to be understood to include a high press and rapid counter-attacks, it has also come to be characterised - particularly in the media - by an implicit acknowledgement that attacking proficiency usually comes at the expense of a somewhat unreliable defence, partly due to the circumstantial failings of the senior sides in Manchester, New York and Melbourne.[84][85]

An additional key aspect of the City Way is its universal application, with not only the various CFG first teams following it but also women's teams as well as academy sides down to the lowest levels.[86]

Team Player Console From To
Manchester City England Kieran "Kez" Brown Xbox One 2016 2018
Denmark Marcus "ExpectSporting" Jørgensen PS4 2017 2018
Germany Kai "Deto" Wollin PS4 2018 2019
England Shaun "Shellzz" Springette PS4 2018
Melbourne City Australia Marcus "SoccerStar007777" Gomes Xbox One 2017
Australia Josh "joshingwood" Wood PS4 2018 2018
New York City United States Christopher "NYC_Chris" Holly PS4 2017
United States Joseph "Joey" Calabro Xbox One 2017 2018


Looking to capitalise on the growth of eSports and for City Football Group to be seen as always being at the forefront of innovation, CFG made their first venture into digital gaming by signing Kieran "Kez" Brown to represent Manchester City at FIFA tournaments and fan events as well as to make digital content for their social media profiles, in June 2016.[87]

Today, Manchester City is represented by former PlayStation 4 World Champion Kai 'deto' Wollin, alongside FeWC 2018 semi-finalist Marcus 'Marcuzo' Jørgensen.

In April 2017, New York City FC signed its first professional FIFA player in Christopher "NYC_Chris" Holly, who became the first FIFA player signed to represent a Major League Soccer club.[88] Similarly, Melbourne City became the first team in the A-League to acquire a professional FIFA player, signing Marcus "marcus_7170" Gomes in August of the same year.[89]


On 7 March 2019, UEFA began an investigation on City Football Group and Manchester City over allegations of Financial Fair Play violations.[90]

See also[edit]


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