Two of the biggest names in sports are going into business together as the New York Yankees and Manchester City Football Club have agreed to a deal creating a Major League Soccer franchise in New York City. Sheik Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, owner of Manchester City, will be the majority owner of Major League Soccer’s 20th franchise, the New York City Football Club. This announcement comes after a three year negotiation to add this expansion team.
This club will be the second in the city of New York and although it doesn’t yet have a stadium of its own, it is expected to spark a rivalry with fellow New Yorkers the Red Bulls when they begin play in the 2015 season. When asked about the decision to open a team in a statement to the MLS, Ferran Soriano, the CEO of Manchester City stated “New York is a legendary sports town, as well as a thriving global city with a rapidly expanding soccer fan-base, we are thrilled to contribute to the energy and growth of New York City Soccer. In the Yankees, we have found the absolute best partner for developing a world-class sports organization and a winning team that will carry the New York City Football Club name with pride.”
This franchise was purchased by Al Nahyan for $100 million as well as a record setting expansion fee for the league. In the opinion of the MLS brass, this reflects the growing popularity of the sport in the United States. The recent success of the United States national team in the World Cup, where they made it past the qualifying stages into the elimination rounds in 2010 thanks to a miracle goal by captain Landon Donovan, the sport has continued to gain momentum in a country that has been slow to embrace the world’s most popular sport. Recent efforts of the MLS such as bringing in big name stars such as David Beckham have given name recognition to one of the budding leagues in the soccer world.
Placing two teams in the state of New York also makes sense. Think of the great rivalries that exist in that area in other major sports. Some of the biggest and most heated rivalries in all of sports come from that area. The New York Yankees certainly know all about this being in one of the most infamous rivalries themselves whenever they take on their hated enemy the Boston Red Sox. In the Football world, although in different conferences, the New York Jets and New York Giants play in heated contests that can even make the pre-season watchable to the average fan. With successful rivalries and competition already in place, the market is certainly there for another heated feud to emerge.
Whether or not soccer will ever become as mainstream in the United States as the big three of baseball, basketball, and football remains to be seen, but the recent growth of the MLS points in the right direction. Having two of the biggest names in the sporting world certainly helps the cause and should be exciting to watch moving forward.
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