City want to co-own team in Malaysia

Malaysia's Sports Minister Syed Saddiq (left) and Manchester City's Spanish Chief Executive Officer Ferran Soriano posing for a picture with the English Premier League trophy in Putrajaya, on May 23, 2019.
Malaysia's Sports Minister Syed Saddiq (left) and Manchester City's Spanish Chief Executive Officer Ferran Soriano posing for a picture with the English Premier League trophy in Putrajaya, on May 23, 2019. PHOTO: AFP / MINISTRY OF YOUTH AND SPORTS OF MALAYSIA

KUALA LUMPUR • The owners of Premier League champions Manchester City are eyeing a stake in a Malaysian team to add to their portfolio of clubs, a Malaysian sports official revealed yesterday.

Ferran Soriano, chief executive officer of the City Football Group (CFG), bankrolled by Sheikh Mansour of the Abu Dhabi royal family, raised the possibility when he met Sports Minister Syed Saddiq in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

CFG already own or have stakes in Major League Soccer outfit New York City, A-League team Melbourne City, J-League side Yokohama F Marinos, Uruguay's Atletico Torque, recently-relegated Spanish team Girona and Chinese side Sichuan Jiuniu, as well as City, who are fresh off winning an unprecedented domestic treble in England.

Ahmad Shapawi Ismai, the director-general of Malaysia's national sports council, revealed to Agence France-Presse that he was "delighted and excited" at the news that CFG "are looking at the possibility of co-owning a Malaysian club as we need (their) expertise".

While Soriano did not reveal the club that the group was interested in buying, Mr Syed said CFG would be meeting some presidents of local clubs soon, and he wanted them to make Malaysia "their base in South-east Asia".

At the meeting, the Spaniard claimed he saw great possibilities in the country, adding: "We see Malaysia has an opportunity for football... the level of enthusiasm of the fans is obvious. The development of Malaysian football and the league in the last year with investment by the government shows there's great opportunity."

Malaysia is the latest Asian country being considered by CFG - in March, Soriano expressed interest in investing in a club from India.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2019, with the headline 'City want to co-own team in Malaysia'. Print Edition | Subscribe