Abu Dhabi United Group recently took over majority stakes at Mumbai City FC of India and it was a huge deal for the Indian football scenario. However, it came to prominence once the Abu Dhabi United Group took over Manchester City who were financially unstable. Since their investment, Manchester City became a powerhouse both in the domestic circuit as well as in Europe.
They invested in buying great players and to guide them, they brought in great managers. But, in 2016 they lured in one of the best managers in the business – Pep Guardiola. It can be said as City’s most coveted prize along with all the titles. It can be said City wanted to build a dynasty and become a team in the top ranks. Securing Guardiola’s signature was reportedly the City Football Group (CFG)’s plan for years, they simply had to build a brand big enough to entice the Spaniard to Manchester.
City have played beautiful football all the years and under Pep they are playing with the flare City Football Group promised the fans when they took over. The first year was a difficult season for Pep who could not win the Premier League but since then he has won all but the Champions League. The domestic treble in 2018-19 was one of the highlights of Pep’s season. City’s success has become an emblem for the City Football Group. With acquisition of Mumbai City FC, they have truly become a global giant.
On top of these fully branded outfits, the CFG owns 44.3% of La Liga side Girona, with another 44.3% held by the Girona Football Group, led by none other than Pep Guardiola’s brother Pere. The level of joined-up thinking at the top of the CFG is impressive, and it’s not just the Manchester franchise that are enjoying success domestically. New York City FC, having been founded in 2013 as the first team based in the city, have finished in second place the past two MLS seasons, and has signed big names like David Villa and Frank Lampard in an effort to raise its profile. Across the globe in the Australian A League, Melbourne City FC has been operating since 2009, and the CFG are clearly looking to build a strong outfit in what is an emerging league. The side has won one FFA Cup and finished 4th the past two seasons, and is now on course to finish third in what will be its most successful season to date.
The branding across the clubs is notably uniform. Everything from the sky-blue kit to the ‘City’ moniker is deliberately uniform, with all three club badges immediately recognisable as part of the CFG brand. Brand unity doesn’t stop at aesthetics, either. The CFG’s website itself notes the brand’s commitment to ‘playing attractive football’ as well as ‘[using] football for social good’ and committing to developing youth prospects. These ideas are reflected in no clearer way than Pep Guardiola’s free-flowing attacking side and its £200 million Etihad Campus, arguably the Premier League’s finest training facility.
The CFG has managed to combine long-term, joined-up thinking on the pitch with exactly the same off of it. In that sense, the global company is a truly modern entity, a group that understands that soccer is now just as much about brand-building and global reach as it is the game itself. If you cast your mind back to pre-investment Manchester City, a side that regularly struggled in the league and were anything but remarkable, the progress in just a decade is frightening. Manchester City and the CFG are powerful, deliberate, considered, and here to stay.
The season may have been tough for the Cityzens but City Football Group is committed to building up a dynasty for themselves. They have reached almost the entire part of the world and are surely keen to build on.