Khaldoon Aguero FA CUP
Manchester City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak (extreme right) celebrates with Sergio Aguero during the presentation ceremony for winning the FA Cup. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Manchester City may not be on top of the Premier League at the moment, but they can celebrate being top of the table when it comes to being among the world’s richest clubs.

A US private equity firm has bought a $500-million stake in the Abu Dhabi-controlled company that owns City and a significant number of football clubs around the world.

City announced on Wednesday that an American company — Silver Lake — bought 10 per cent in City Football Group (CFG), of which the English Premier League champions are the flagship club. CFG are also major stakeholders in football clubs in New York, Melbourne and Yokohama.

This deal would make CFG the world’s most valuable football group in the world with a $4.8 billion price tag. Silver Lake became the second major partner in the group, with a Chinese consortium owning 12 per cent of the equity.

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 is a testament to the journey that we’ve undertaken. When Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Presidential Affairs, bought the club back in 2008, he bought it with a view that this is going to be a profitable, sustainable business and I think we’ve done that. Over the last 10 years we’ve shown that this thesis is accurate and that it’s right and this transaction is a further testament to this thesis.”

Asked where does he see City 10 years hence, Khaldoon said: “I think 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.

Back in the UAE, where City have many, many fans, the news was welcomed with open arms.

Mike Bops, Vice-Chairman of Manchester City Supporters Club in Dubai, said: “CFG project is a world changer in the football world at least.”

Mark Lynch, another member of the club, said: “It took me as a bit of a surprise this morning but it shows the vision of CFG. You cannot contend at the top table without breaking even and this has put City further ahead in the game. We continue to contend with the best. And after years of getting up there, now we are there to stay.

“CFG have had a trickle down across the globe. Not just in Manchester but in America, Australia … everywhere. This vision allows us to stay at the top and also feed these other partners in the global game to thrive.”

Silver Lake, whose headquarters are in California, has previously focused its investments in technology companies and entertainment.

Egon Durban, Managing Director of Silver Lake, says CFG “is redefining football globally” and is looking forward to driving “the next phase of CFG’s growth in the fast-growing premium sports and entertainment content market.”