The greatest get greater.
We witnessed Tiger Woods add to his gargantuan number of majors in golf earlier this year as he pulled on his fifth Green Jacket at the Masters in Augusta. We saw Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer become even more elite in their own elite tennis club. And we took in Manchester City picking up their second Premier League title along with an unprecedented domestic treble of trophies in England on the football scene.
Sport — it seems — knows no boundaries as the last of these achievements is mind-bogglingly tantalising. Manchester City have gone from strength to strength since their takeover from the UAE in 2009. Trophies and titles and landmarks flooded in over the past decade, including a record-breaking 198 points over two seasons against all odds to deny Liverpool their first Premier League title in 2018 and 2019.
A treble may already be out of reach this campaign as City languish nine points behind their red rivals in the standings, but that does nothing to stop the hunger at the club and their owners from achieving more acclaim across the globe.
The Sky Blues and their City Football Group (CFG) owners from Abu Dhabi earlier this week announced an American company — Silver Lake — bought 10 per cent in the company of which the English Premier League champions are the flagship club.
CFG had put down roots in Australia, North America and China since the takeover of the English club back in 2009.
The deal on Thursday to acquire a majority stake in its eighth club, Mumbai City in the Indian Super League, marked a major move into Indian football. CFG will become the 65 per cent majority shareholder of the club, alongside existing shareholders, actor Ranbir Kapoor and film producer Bimal Parekh who combined will hold the remaining 35 per cent of shares
But their whirlwind rise to the top shows no signs of abating as CFG continue to spread their reach.
The move by Silver Lake — along with the franchises in Melbourne, New York City and Yokohama and with Chinese investors — means they have the richest football business in — well — the business, with a with a $4.8 billion price tag.
Not content to rest on their laurels, on Thursday CFG spread their web wider by investing in Mumbai City FC, India’s major team on a domestic level.
This puts them on the global map in a way never seen before.
North America: Check.
Middle East: Check.
The reach of CFG now accounts for almost all of the tappable markets in football.
To have such a market for merchandising and marketing is just one wing of the concept, as any footballing fan knows trophies not chequebooks win over the followers.
The deal on Thursday to acquire a majority stake in its eighth club, Mumbai City in the Indian Super League, marked a major move into Indian football. CFG will become the 65 per cent majority shareholder of the club, alongside existing shareholders, actor Ranbir Kapoor and film producer Bimal Parekh who combined will hold the remaining 35 per cent of shares.
To extend their brand to a new market opens so many windows of opportunity for CFG, from unearthed talent on the field claiming the trophies of the future to TV rights and advertising bringing in the money behind the scenes.
Welcoming the City Football Group to the Indian Super League (ISL), Nita Ambani said: “It’s a landmark occasion that celebrates the remarkable rise of Indian football and brings to life our vision for the beautiful game in India.
“It is a great endorsement of the increasing appeal of Indian football and for all football fans in India, this is a moment to take pride in our football, our culture and the opportunity we present to the world in developing the sport. The power and potential of our youth makes India the most exciting global opportunity in the world today, in every field, and especially in sport.”
If anything, City and CFG look like taking their brand even further.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of CFG, said: “We’re very excited. It’s been a wonderful journey over the last 10 or 11 years and I think this transaction (Silver Lake) is a testament to the journey that we’ve undertaken.
This transaction is a testament to the appetite that this group has about the future. When we bring in another half-a-billion dollars of investment into the group and when we commit to keep that investment and not take out any of that, I think that in itself tells you how we see investing and how we see the future. We see this as a growing and attractive business to invest in.
We’ve created the platform for that and I can certainly assure you we’re focusing on the future, on growth and building on the strength that we’ve built over the years.”
Last week it was America. Today it is India. Tomorrow, it could be infinity and beyond for a club, a franchise and a proposition that shows no signs of slowing down.