Major League Soccer, Man City

Man City To Own New MLS Club In New York?

statue of libertyInteresting article by Grant Wahl of SI on the future of the 2nd franchise in New York.

According to Wahl, Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour is the odds-on favorite to be the owner of the second New York MLS team, which would be called New York City FC.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said last week that an NYC expansion announcement was four to six weeks away. Coincidentally , Man City will be in New York for a friendly May 25 against Chelsea at Yankee Stadium. What a perfect time to make an announcement!

The franchise, which will play in the new stadium in Queens will not be cheap. Wahl believes that the expansion fee could be as high as $100 million. Add in $340 million for the stadium, and the costs for building training facilities and signing players, and you are looking at a cost over $500m. A huge amount of money, that not a lot of people can afford. But $500m is but a drop in the bucket for someone like Sheikh Mansour.

New York City FC would probably not begin playing until 2016 or 17. But based on what Mansour has done at Manchester City, I would expect that One could expect that NYC FC would look to sign the maximum amount of big-name Designated Players, which are currently limited to three per MLS team.

Manchester City have also invested millions into their academy program in the last two years, and I would expect NYC FC to do the same. The academy programs are slowly coming along here in the U.S., but they are still a long way behind those of the top clubs in Europe.

NYC FC could provide Mansour with access to the best young talent in the U.S.. The question will be, when the NYC FC academy develops its first really good young American player. Does NYC FC promote him through their system into the MLS side, or will they be moved to England and Manchester City?

NYC FC will not be the last expansion side in Major League Soccer. On Twitter last week, Garber was asked whether the MLS would expand to 30 teams, but he thought that was too many teams.

Which puts the long-term number somewhere between 20 and 30. So where else will the MLS expand too? The south and south east is a glaring hole. Atlanta, Tampa, Miami, Orlando are all places with an interest in acquiring an MLS franchise. I cannot see all four of those cities getting franchises, but two or three of them is a possibility.

In the midwest, St.Louis is one of the birthplaces of soccer in this country. Adding a team in St. Louis will provide a natural rival for Sporting Kansas, and if the sell-out for the Chelsea v Man City game next month is any indication, St. Louis is an area that embraces soccer.

So I can envision a 24-team or 26-team league within 10 years. The question then becomes whether there are enough good players to fund that many teams?