Manchester to Mumbai: ISL gets a leg-up

Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) chairperson Nita Ambani and City Football Group CEO Ferran Soriano in Mumbai on Thursday. PTI

City Football Group (CFG), the parent company of reigning English Premier League champions Manchester City, on Thursday made waves in the Indian football landscape after taking a majority stake in the Indian Super League (ISL) side Mumbai City FC.

The CFG will be the majority stakeholders with 65 percent stake in the club while Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor and Bimal Parekh will keep the remaining 35 percent.

“I am delighted and proud to announce that the City Football Group has acquired a majority stake in Mumbai City FC,” said Nita Ambani, chairperson of Football Sports Development Limited and Reliance Foundation, during the announcement alongside CFG Chief Executive Officer Ferran Soriano.

“For the first time ever, a European club will be acquiring a majority stake in an Indian club. I am sure Mumbai City FC and Indian football will benefit from this historic partnership,” she added.

Meanwhile Soriano, who has been the brains behind CFG’s global ambition, said: “We have been looking at this for years. We are convinced of the bright future of football in India. I am sure 10 years from now, we will be here and we will be talking about a lot of people playing good football for India.”

The Spaniard even revealed that Pep Guardiola, the Man City manager, will be in touch with Mumbai coach Jorge Costa as he is part of their network of coaches and all of them will have a relationship.

With the acquisition, CFG have a network of eight clubs under their banner spread across the globe: Man City, New York City FC (USA), Melbourne City (Australia), Yokohama F Marinos (Japan), Girona FC (Spain), Atletico Torque (Uruguay) and Sichuan Jiunia (China).

The CFG deal opens opportunities for Mumbai to get better foreigners in and the academy players to have exposure trips. In time, when the academy is running full scale, this might also see Indians moving abroad to play, especially in Japan and Asia.

The other major impact could be the domino effect. Indian leagues have received little love from the elite clubs in Europe. Often seen as a cash cow due to the country's massive population, the long-term investment in India might make more clubs to take note

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