Abu Dhabi-based Man City owner draws $500m investment from private equity firm Silver Lake

Manchester City this month reported record high 2018-19 revenue of £535.2 million ($687 million) in a fifth consecutive year of profitability. (Reuters)
Updated 27 November 2019

Abu Dhabi-based Man City owner draws $500m investment from private equity firm Silver Lake

  • Europe’s top football clubs have drawn in big money from some of the world’s richest investors over the last decade
  • Man City this month reported record high 2018-2019 revenue of £535.2 million in a fifth consecutive year of profitability

PARIS: US private equity firm Silver Lake has agreed to invest $500 million in the owners of English football champions Manchester City, valuing the Premier League club’s owner at $4.8 billion.
Silver Lake will buy just over 10 percent of Abu Dhabi-controlled City Football Group (CFG), which owns Manchester City, the companies said on Wednesday, confirming a report in the Financial Times newspaper.
Europe’s top football clubs have drawn in big money from some of the world’s richest investors over the last decade, as the game attracts more and more fans in lucrative markets such as Asia, the United States and the Middle East.
The clubs’ property portfolios are also often seen as lucrative assets.
Man City’s big domestic rival Manchester United are owned by the American Glazer family, while Chelsea is owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. French champions Paris Saint Germain are owned by Qatar Sports Investments.
“Silver Lake is a global leader in technology investing, and we are delighted by both the validation that their investment in CFG represents, and the opportunities for further growth that their partnership brings,” City Football Group Chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak said in a statement.
City Football Group said none of its existing shareholders were selling equity stakes as part of the Silver Lake deal.
It added that Abu Dhabi United Group, the investment vehicle owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, would remain the majority CFG shareholder with a stake of around 77 percent.
Man City this month reported record high 2018-19 revenue of £535.2 million ($687 million) in a fifth consecutive year of profitability.
Silver Lake Managing Director Egon Durban will join the board of City Football Group.
“We are excited to invest in CFG, which is redefining football globally and in doing so has successfully built an impressive global platform of marquee football clubs across five continents,” Durban said in a statement.
Manchester City spent much of the 1990s in the doldrums, often out of England’s top-flight league and far behind Manchester United, which remains England’s record league title holders with 20 championship titles.
However, the influx of Middle Eastern cash has since led to a revival in Man City’s fortunes.
The team, managed by former Barcelona man Pep Guardiola, won an unprecedented domestic treble last season — the Premier League title, the FA Cup and the League Cup.
Unlike Manchester United and Liverpool, however, Man City is yet to win Europe’s most prestigious title, the Champions League.


Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

Updated 21 January 2020

Africa Cup switch to winter sends a chill through European leagues

  • High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire

CAIRO: There is little doubt that the switch by the Africa Cup of Nations from summer to winter competition will have a big impact on European competitions, with those at the top of the Premier League perhaps most affected.

The confederation confirmed that from 2021 when Cameroon will play host, the tournament will revert back to being played in January and February.

The tournament was moved to a June-July slot for last year’s edition in Egypt, which meant minimal disruption to the European domestic season. But plenty of Premier League managers will be left with problems this time next year, with several stars likely to leave for up to six weeks, including pre-tournament preparations.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp appears to face the biggest headache given that two of his star attacking players, Mohamed Salah from Egypt and Sadio Mane from Senegal, both featured in the African tournament last summer and are almost certain to be involved in the 2021 competition in some capacity.

High-profile African players playing in England include the Arsenal duo Pierre-Emerick Aubamayang of Gabon and Nicolas Pepe of Cote d’Ivoire, while Manchester City will lose Riyad Mahrez should Algeria feature.

Klopp is critical of the decision to move the tournament dates, calling it “a catastrophe.” Salah and Mane’s absence would leave huge gaps in the Liverpool side. There is also Cameroon’s Joel Matip and Guinea’s Naby Keita to worry about. Matip has become solid at the back. Keita, too, would be a loss given his recent resurgence.

The Liverpool manager is upset because last year’s tournament was moved to mid-year to end a long-standing clash between clubs and countries over the release of their players. It was felt that common sense had prevailed when the tournament, which since 1960 had always been held during winter, reverted to summer. African players in western European clubs would no longer find themselves the target of competing claims for their attention every other season, which would benefit the players and their clubs and countries, and lead to fewer squabbles.

But then Cameroon changed its mind about hosting the tournament in summer next year, changing the dates from June and July to between Jan. 6 and Feb. 6. Why? The weather. It’s simply too hot in Cameroon in summer.

Organizers said they had agreed to the change after discussions with player and coach representatives.

But didn’t Cameroon know beforehand that its summers are too hot, too humid and right in the middle of its rainy season? That the country does not enjoy ideal conditions for football in summer could not have taken its organizers by complete surprise.

The situation serves as a vivid reminder of the botch-up of the 2022 Qatar World Cup. The host and FIFA decided that the World Cup, which is forever played in summer, would be moved to winter because of Qatar’s oppressive heat — but that decision came only after Qatar won the bid. That change, again, will mean a head-on clash with international tournaments and club competitions.

A football tournament simply cannot keep changing when it will be held as often as people change their socks. This is especially true for the Africa Cup of Nations, which is played every two years.

A major sports tournament must have fixed times. And, to be sure, its organizers should understand that you can’t please everybody. A championship’s times are bound to clash with some tournament or other. The African tournament, for example, will avoid a clash with FIFA’s revamped 24-team Club World Cup to be played in China in June and July 2021. But it cannot but conflict with European leagues. The important thing is to stay the course. Once a date is picked, it should be stuck to like glue.