Manchester City – once dubbed the “noisy neighbours” by Manchester United’ former manager Sir Alex Ferguson – have effectively been named the most valuable football club on the planet .
The Etihad club – and the group that owns it – are said to be worth more than £3 billion – outstripping the value of Manchester United, the Financial Times has reported.
The huge figure emerged the day after City’s faltering qualification for the knock-out stages of the Champions League – a 1–1 home draw against Shakhtar Donetsk – following an announcement by the Blues’ holding company, City Football Group (CFG), that they had received a $500 million investment (£389 million) from American private equity company Silver Lake.
The deal gives Silver Lake a stake of about ten per cent in CGF, suggesting that the group’s overall worth is in excess of £3 billion.
It represents an astonishing turnaround in fortunes for what was, for decades, Manchester’s Cinderella club, while Manchester United were breaking records.
In the 80s, City plummeted into the old Third Division and even as late as 2001 were relegated from the Premier League, bouncing back into the top flight in time to move from ramshackle Maine Road into the then City of Manchester Stadium.
In recent years, City Football Group has become a lucrative global concern, with a stake in seven clubs across the world, with the Premier League’s current back-to-back champions the group’s flagship club.
The other clubs in CFG’s portfolio are New York City FC, who play in the MLS in the United States, Catalan club Girona of Spain’s La Liga, Australian side Melbourne City, Yokohama Marinos of Japan, Sichuan Jiuniu of China and Club Atletico Torque of Uruguay.
Quoting from the Financial Times’ report, radio station Talk Sport said the new deal breaks a record in sports valuation with CFG now above the $2.8 billion market capitalisation of Manchester United, listed on the New York stock exchange.
CFG chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak – also chairman of Manchester City since the club was bought by Sheik Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008 – told the Financial Times: “Silver Lake is a global leader in technology investing, and we are delighted by both the validation that their investment in CFG represents, and the opportunities for further growth that their partnership brings.”
In 2015, China Media Capital led a consortium that paid $400m for a 13 per cent stake in CFG, valuing the group at more than $3bn. The new deal will leave Sheikh Mansour as majority shareholder at 77 per cent, China Media Capital at about 12 per cent, and Silver Lake at just over 10 per cent.
The Silver Lake deal, with brings a $500 million cash injection to help CFG’s expansion planes, reported to include the acquisition of more football clubs globally and the building of a new stadium in New York, comes despite UEFA’s investigation into Manchester City for alleged breaches of “financial fair play” rules which could result in the Blues being banned from playing in the Champions League for at least one season.
The final ruling is expected next month.