Ferran Soriano

City Football Group
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City Football Group adds Belgian side as ninth club

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Belgian second division side Lommel SK is celebrating its addition the City Football Group.

Manchester City’s got a new friend in the group, giving City enough peers for a baseball starting lineup.

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City and Lommel are in a group with Girona (Spain), New York City FC (MLS), Melbourne City FC (Australia), Montevideo City (Uruguay), Mumbai City (India), Yokohama FC Marinos (Japan), and Sichuan Jiuniu (China).

Lommel was sixth in the Belgian second tier when the season was paused for the coronavirus pandemic. The club’s predecessors played in the top flight, and Lommel has been the home of Belgian national teamer Hans Vanaken.

From The Manchester Evening News, here’s CFG chief executive Ferran Soriano:

“Belgium is one of Europe’s best football countries as demonstrated by the success of the national team and the development of world-class players, some of whom we know very well, like Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Kompany. This investment is part of our long-term strategy to be present in key football countries, play beautiful football and develop talent.”

The group’s growth hasn’t just been about competition and development. It’s also made money, as CFG posted a $100 million profit on NYCFC from the 2018-19 season (Forbes.com).

[ MORE: American investor looks to recreate City Football Group ]

Man City CEO Soriano speaks out against FFP charges

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The gloves are off.

Manchester City has come out swinging, making it abundantly clear the club will be fighting the Financial Fair Play charges from UEFA with everything it has. Chief executive Ferran Soriano has gone on record in an attempt to clear the club’s name and assure fans that City will throw everything it has at the allegations.

“The most important thing I have to say today is that the allegations are not true,” Soriano said in a club-released statement. “They are simply not true.”

The owner has not put money in this club that has not been properly declared. We are a sustainable football club, we are profitable, we don’t have debt, our accounts have been scrutinized many times, by auditors, by regulators, by investors and this is perfectly clear.”

City was handed a two-year European competition ban and a $32 million fine after UEFA found regulatory Financial Fair Play breaches regarding the misrepresentation of an owner-backed injection of money that was allegedly disguised as inflated sponsorship deals. The charges stemmed from a publication by German outlet Der Spiegel that displayed leaked emails showing evidence of the manipulation.

However, Soriano is fighting this tooth and nail. The Man City CEO accused the UEFA FFP chamber of being biased towards the Der Spiegel leak rather than take fair consideration of the evidence the club provided to the process. “We worked very hard [to cooperate with the process]. We provided the evidence but in the end this FFP Investigatory Chamber relied more on out of context stolen emails than all the other evidence we provided of what actually happened and I think it is normal that we feel like we feel. Ultimately based on our experience and our perception this seems to be less about justice and more about politics.”

Soriano also confirmed that City actually reached out to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) during the UEFA FFP process out of fear that the process was tainted, but were told that the court had little authority until an initial decision had been reached by UEFA. “We went to CAS mid process because it was clear to us that we were not having a fair process and we were concerned. We were specifically concerned about the leaks, the constant leak of information. CAS said there was merit in our complaint, they said that the leaks were ‘worrisome’ and they said they would judge it when process has finished. The process has finished now, we are going to CAS again.”

The executive assured fans that the players and manager Pep Guardiola will be kept separate from the process to continue their work on the field, while others take care of the matter in court. “Obviously, he has been kept informed about this process but this is not something for him to respond to. He is focussed on the football, he is focussing on the game, the game at hand, the game today, tomorrow and the next weeks. As well as the players. They are calm, they are focussed and this matter is more a business matter, a legal matter than a football manner.”

Finally, Soriano hopes that Man City’s potential exoneration can help assuage the growing sentiment that the club’s recent success is more down to its financial might than hard work. “I am also looking for the end of this process maybe to put a pen under this undertone that we are hearing all the time that anything that we do, any result that we get is based only on money and not on talent and effort. The 100s of people that work at this club know this is not true that it is about effort and talent so maybe in the end, this is an opportunity.”

City Football Group strikes rich new uniform deal

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Manchester City is going to look different next season.

No, the reigning Premier League champions did not announce that Pep Guardiola is not leaving, nor did they say Kevin De Bruyne or Sergio Aguero would be sold in the summer.

[ MORE: Man City 1-0 West Ham ]

But City Football Group has announced a reported $863 million deal with clothing outfitter Puma which will cover many of its clubs, headlined by Man City and including Melbourne City FC (Australia), Girona FC (La Liga), Club Atlético Torque (Uruguay) and Sichuan Jiuniu FC (China).

City Football Group CEO Ferran Soriano says the deal “will reset the model for sports partnerships on a truly global scale.”

Notably the deal does not include New York City FC, who has a league-wide uniform deal through Major League Soccer.

Adidas signed a 10-year, $1.3 billion deal with Manchester United in 2014, so City does have some way to go to compete with the Red Devils in that area of revenue.

Ferran Soriano: Bonucci approached City about playing under Guardiola

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Pep Guardiola has already sparked interest from some of the game’s brightest players to join him in England.

[ MORE: Premier League Player Power Rankings through Week 8 ]

According to Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano, one of Serie A’s top defenders approached the club about coming to the Etihad Stadium over the summer.

[ MORE: Ranieri pleased with Leicester’s UCL start, wants more from PL form ]

Soriano spoke with Barcelona-based radio station RAC1, stating that Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci approached the Citizens about coming to Manchester ahead of the 2016/17 season.

“At the moment there are a lot of players that want to play under Pep,” Soriano revealed.”The Italian central defender [Leo] Bonucci wants to play for him and he called us.”

To the dismay of City, though, Juventus was reportedly unwilling to sell their prized defender. Guardiola and the Premier League leaders went on to purchase John Stones from Everton ahead of the season, and has cemented a place in the first team.

While funds aren’t an issue for the Citizens, any deal to acquire Bonucci would have been costly. Chelsea’s rumored deal of over $73 million was shot down by the Serie A champions, meaning City would have had to ante up even more.

“I called the Juventus sporting director and he told me they didn’t want to sell,” Soriano continued. “There ended the story!”

New York City FC could be a proving ground for Man City youth

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Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano says look out for New York City FC when it kicks off its debut season next year, warning that the new Major League Soccer club isn’t messing around when it comes to its goals as an organization.

“We are building a truly authentic New York team,” Soriano told ESPN. “This is not a Manchester City team, or a brand play or a marketing trick. This is real.”

Part of that reality is that NYCFC could become a place where future Manchester City stars earn their chance at a Premier League job. Soriano said the club could have players begin in MLS before moving onward.

From the BBC:

Manchester City are planning to send young players to develop at their Major League Soccer franchise in the USA.

New York City FC, who signed England midfielder Frank Lampard from Chelsea in July, are owned by Man City and baseball giants New York Yankees.

“We have some bright players. We might ask them to come to New York before they play at Manchester,” City chief executive Ferran Soriano told ESPN.

“This is a team that’s going to play beautiful soccer in New York.”

The philosophy could reap dividends for Manchester City and, in a certain sense, would be good for Major League Soccer. The influx of talent the league would not normally see would draw attention from abroad and help with the branding of the club.

However, there’s a certain “minor league risk” involved with such a concept, as anyone who lives in a AAA baseball or AHL hockey market. When your prized prospect or star player gets scooped back to the big club, it lends an air of illegitimacy to matches, or even a season.

Surely there are ways around this — loans would have to be a season in duration — but there’s a challenge in players not being your team’s players, especially in New York City.