Manchester City denies MLS club interest

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As statements go, Manchester City’s on Saturday regarding potential MLS ownership was as brief and to the point as it possibly could be:

“Manchester City are not buying an MLS club.”

So there you go. That was the club’s official statement.

A story had some traction here Friday – much as it could on a day when America was understandably consumed with the day’s grim news – that City was close to an agreement that would see the English Premier League gaining control of that long-talked about second MLS franchise in New York.

Reputable news outlets reported that the team owned by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan would pay MLS $100 million to purchase a club that would operate in Queens. Bloomberg, citing sources, had an additional detail that made the story even more tantilizing: that none other than David Beckham would be potentially involved.

Beckham, of course, has been open about his MLS ownership interest, although any detail past that has difficult to pin down. One element of the contract clause regarding team ownership was the stipulation that he no longer be playing in MLS. So Beckham’s recent retirement as a player from the league (although not necessarily from competitive soccer) added weight to theories that his days as owner might be “sooner” rather than “later.”

The club would operate in Queens, according to Friday’s reports. That much is likely; there probably will be an MLS club operating out of Queens in the relatively near future. MLS seems to at the “I crossing and T dotting” stage on plans to develop a 25,000-seat facility for a new team based in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, just east of Manhattan.

And the $100 million franchise fee for New York’s second team is probably an accurate figure, one that MLS commissioner Don Garber first established NYC-2 (but not for other potential new MLS markets) about 18 months ago.

So, quite a bit of the story has merit – just not the Manchester City involvement, apparently.