April 5 – Manchester City owner City Football Group (CFG) has taken control of a fifth club, Uruguay’s second division Club Atletico Torque. CFG also owns New York City FC in the US, Melbourne City in Australia, and a controlling position in Japan’s Yokohama F Marinos.
Although CFG will have control of the club, the Uruguayan deal is not an acquisition but rather a 10-year partnership which will see CFG funnel South America talent through the club to its bigger named and owned clubs.
Torque’s club secretary Pablo Nikitov told Bloomberg that the club will develop players from across South America, readying them for the Premier League or one of the other CFG clubs, saving the group and its clubs millions of dollars in transfer fees. Man City has spent over $1.25 billion on players since being bought by Sheikh Mansour.
The deal puts no valuation on Torque because the Montevideo-based club ultimately has no commercial value. Only formed in 2008, it plays in Uruguay’s second division to crowds of only 250 people. CFG’s investment is in the development structure for players and the cost-effective conduit the club can provide to CFG’s higher profile clubs.
CFG chief commercial officer Tom Glick said last month the group was “focussed” on expanding the number of clubs it has under ownership. Technically the Torque deal is an expansion of clubs but it is a deal based on player development and player acquisition metrics, rather than commercial club economics.
China has long been rumoured as the next expansion stop for the Abu Dhabi owned group that as well as owning the four club has built a growing commercial operation servicing those clubs.
CFG sold a 13% stake in the holding company to a consortium of Chinese investors for £265 million in December 2015. The sale valued the consortium at £2 billion at the time.
“The important thing for us is to add the right clubs in the right cities, in the right leagues. We are open to this. There are a number of leagues and countries that are quite interesting,” said Glick.
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