Manchester City are planning to acquire an Indian football club before the end of 2019, just a month after buying Chinese second division club Sichuan Jiuniu. The City Football Group now own seven teams in total, including the current Premier League champions.
New York City (America), Melbourne City (Australia), Girona (Spain), Club Atlético Torque (Uruguay) and Yokohama F. Marinos (Japan) make up the rest of the list, which sees the group own a team in five of the seven continents.
The City Football Group have identified India as the next big market they want to crack and are currently seeking a club suitable for the CFG's portfolio. Ferran Soriano, City's chief executive, travelled to India in January to watch ISL outfit Mumbai take on Jamshedpur.
The average attendance in an Indian Super League fixture is around 15,000, however crowds have reached upwards of 60,000 in recent seasons. With a colossal population of 21 million, there is still huge room for growth for football in India which is likely to be exploited should City complete this proposed takeover.
Former Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljumberg, Premier League journeyman Nicolas Anelka and ex-Manchester United star Diego Forlan have all been marquee signings in the Indian Super League with Mumbai over the years, while former England international Peter Reid also managed the club briefly in 2014.
“We have some interest in some markets and countries where there is a genuine football passion and opportunities, like China, but also India. So there might be other opportunities in Asia,” said Soriano.
“With all these developments we have to be patient. We’ve been looking at India for nearly two years now. I’d say this year we’ll end up doing an investment in India.”
He added: “As we see it now, there is a natural pace of growth that we will follow that takes us to more than seven teams, but not 100 teams.
“I cannot see ten years ahead but the group might have two or three teams more. Is this going to change in five years and we’re going to have more? Maybe, I don’t know that.
“But to complete the vision that we had six years ago, I think we will have maybe two or three clubs more.”
CFG was created after the purchase of MLS side New York City in 2013 - the second acquisition after Manchester City - and now boasts an extremely strong portfolio of seven teams across the globe. Their takeover of Sichuan Jiuniu last month means that the group will own a total of three sides throughout Asia, should their interest in purchasing a football club in India come to fruition later this year.