KUALA LUMPUR: The owners of Premier League champions Manchester City are eyeing a stake in a Malaysian team to add to their growing portfolio of clubs, a sports official said Friday.
Ferran Soriano — CEO of City Football Group (CFG), which is bankrolled by Sheikh Mansour of the Abu Dhabi royal family — raised the possibility when he met Sports Minister Syed Saddiq in Malaysia on Thursday.
CFG already owns or has stakes in New York City, Melbourne City, Japan’s Yokohama F Marinos, Atletico Torque, Girona and Sichuan Jiuniu, as well as star side Manchester City.
City are flying high after winning the FA Cup last week, completing a domestic treble with the English league title and the League Cup.
“They are looking at the possibility of co-owning a Malaysian club,” Ahmad Shapawi Ismail, director-general of Malaysia’s national sports council, told AFP.
The official, who was present at Thursday’s meeting, said he was “delighted and excited” at the news, adding: “We need (their) expertise.” He said that no specific side was discussed.
But Syed Saddiq said CFG would be meeting with some presidents of local clubs soon, and he wanted them to make Malaysia “their base in Southeast Asia.”
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 that there is a great opportunity.
Ferran Soriano, CEO of City Football Group
Malaysia’s main divisions are the top-flight super league and the second-tier premier league. At Thursday’s meeting, Soriano said he saw great possibilities in Malaysia.
“We would like to talk to all of the Malaysian football stakeholders to find ways to collaborate,” he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times newspaper.
“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 that there’s great opportunity.”
It is the latest Asian country being considered by CFG — in March, Soriano said the group wanted to invest in India.
Football is popular in Malaysia but the country does not perform well on the international stage, and is currently ranked 168th in the world.