AS English champions Manchester City expand to Asia, the Citizens may buy a Malaysian club, one from the M-League, New Straits Times reported.
This was the new development when Man City chief executive officer, Ferran Soriano visited Sports Minister, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman yesterday.
Soriano made an impressive entrance into Syed Saddiq’s office in Putrajaya, with the world’s most coveted trophy in tow, from the English Premier League.
Soriano announced that City Football Group (CFG), the owners of Premier League champions Manchester City, are interested in collaborating with Malaysia, and this includes investing in a M- League club.
Syed Saddiq said: “This is historic (for Malaysian football) when I know Soriano decided to come down to Malaysia to work with us.
“The meeting today is to see how we can work and collaborate closely to develop football. There were many things discussed... for example, the possibility of Manchester City buying one of the clubs in Malaysia.
“This is to ensure there is a long term plan to develop football here. From the Sports Ministry’s standpoint, there will be collaboration through youth football, may it be the Mokhtar Dahari Academy or National Football Development Programme.”
Also present during yesterday’s meeting with the Man City chief were National Sports Council (NSC) director general Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail and CIMB Group Holdings Berhad group chief executive officer Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, who is also said to be the link between Malaysia and CFG.
However, no representatives from the nation’s football governing body, the FA of Malaysia (FAM) were present.
Soriano said as this is his first visit to Malaysia, he is interested in meeting all football stakeholders in Malaysia.
“We would like to talk to all of the Malaysian football stakeholders to find ways to collaborate.
“We see Malaysia has an opportunity for football ... the level of enthusiasm of the fans is obvious. The development of Malaysian football and the league in the last year with investment by the government shows that there’s great opportunity.
“We would like to explore things to do together with the Malaysian people and Malaysian football family. Malaysian football will grow significantly in the next decade.
“The only way football can grow, as history shows, is for everybody to go in the same way, the government, the leagues, the teams, that’s the way forward,” said Soriano.
Apart from owning Man City, who became the first team to win England’s domestic treble — the EPL title, the FA Cup and League Cup, CFG also own the United States’ New York City FC, Australia’s Melbourne City FC, Yokohama F Marinos of Japan, Spanish Club Atletico Torque and Girona, and Sichuan Jiuniu of China.
CFG are said to be missing the Southeast Asia connection, which is the main reason for Soriano to be in town and considering Malaysia.
In March, CFG were reported as considering buying an Indian club by the end of the year and that they will buy two or three more clubs in the next decade.
Man City’s fan base in Malaysia at present is not as big as that of Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal.
But in time to come, Pep Guardiola’s team are expected to gain more Malaysian fans due to their phenomenal success and wider influence through City Football Group.
Source : New Straits Times