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Manchester City's owners reportedly close to finalizing deal to buy MLS expansion franchise

New York Times is reporting that Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan is prepared to pay $100 million expansion fee, build stadium in Queens and name the team New York City FC.

Manchester City's owners may be coming to MLS, but Carlos Tevez probably won't be.
Manchester City's owners may be coming to MLS, but Carlos Tevez probably won't be.
Alex Livesey

It's looking more and more like Manchester City's owners joining the ranks of MLS is getting closer to reality. The latest report comes from the New York Times, which adds some detail to previous rumors.

Some of the more relevant details include:

  • Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan's group is prepared to pay the long-rumored $100 million expansion fee
  • The team will likely be called New York City FC and could begin play as early as 2016
  • Their home games will be played in Queens, where plans for a $350 million, privately-financed stadium are close to being approved
  • MLS is hoping to make the announcement on May 25, when Manchester City is playing Chelsea in an exhibition at Yankee Stadium

None of this is necessarily "new" but it is the strongest indication yet that this is all but a done deal. MLS Commissioner Don Garber recently said he hoped to have an announcement on the league's 20th team sometime in the next 4-6 weeks, which fits nicely in this timeline.

It would also be a rather massive investment. At $100 million, al-Nahyan would be paying more than twice as much as the previous round of expansion. The stadium would also immediately become the most expensive soccer-specific facility in North America, topping the $200 million the New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City spent on their stadiums. CD Chivas' Estadio Omnilife also cost about $200 million.

This will be an entirely different kind of challenge, though. Unlike when he bought Manchester City, al-Nahyan's riches will not play quite as powerful a role in terms of attracting talent. There are those that believe the MLS team will be used as a farm club for Manchester City, but the league's salary cap and allocation rules will make that very difficult as even relatively cheap Premier League players would count as Designated Players in MLS.