09 Sep City Football Group and their expansion of the Global Club Model
City Football Group’s global management has allows for increased fan engagement across multi-lingual communities due to their international growth that covers four different continents.
Footballs adaptation from Sport to Business has been transcendent with the growth of one of the sports most innovative business avenues. Manchester City boasts its status currently, not only as one of the Europe’s biggest football clubs but as a global brand, thanks to the City Football group.
Set up by the Abu Dhabi investment fund which was able to become sole investors into Manchester City in 2008, the City Football Global company has been able to invest heavily into clubs from other continents and create a family of interlinked clubs. In 2014 Melbourne City FC, an Australian A-league team joined allegiances with Manchester City; as did the four times Japanese champions in the J-League, Yokohama F Marinos. The most recent team to join the City Football Group was US Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise New York City FC in 2015. The links emerged by Manchester City helped to acquire world class players for the inaugural season of New York City FC in the MLS; players such as; Chelsea and England Legend Frank Lampard, AC Milan and Juventus great, Andrea Pirlo and 2010 World Cup winner with Spain, David Villa – staple names within the footballing world were signed and emphasised to other clubs across the world the impact that the global brand could have in future. City Chief Exec, Ferran Soriano was quoted saying “we are proud to offer a collaborative and integrated approach to the football, marketing, media and commercial development of all the clubs in the city family.”
CFG also endeavoured to incorporating Manchester City Women F.C within the aegis, opening even further avenues within the footballing umbrella. Women’s football in recent times has been recognised as a rising sensation, with multiple TV rights being signed to show women’s football and Government initiatives to increase participation across all ages. Steps have been made over several years and evidence has been shown with the growth of female adult participants growing in 2015 by 5.3 per cent, and no doubt this figure will only grow after the women’s football’s inclusion in the Olympics in Rio.
The network of football clubs is an ambitious attempt from Manchester City to eclipse its rivals by aiming to secure access to a range of new fans, global sponsors, markets and players. It’s a pioneering mentality that will no doubt force other clubs to follow suit and make the step across other continents, linking contacts, players and fans.
In 2015, Australian based coconut drink brand Coco Joy who were an existing Melbourne City sponsor, were willing to spread their sponsorship deal to cover both Manchester City and New York City; evidence that the links created are benefiting not only the football club, but also helping business share their services on a global scale. The global links provide businesses of all natures a unique opportunity to share clear and concise messages to consumers on both a global and local scale.
Manchester City’s reach, as one of the biggest European football clubs is already large. Association with other teams helps build prestige amongst supporters whose primary support lies with one of the sister clubs. Association is found with the teams all sharing the sky-blue of Manchester City, and more recently with the adaptation of Manchester City’s club logo, similarly presented by New York City FC and Melbourne City FC. The sharing of badges presents a specific branding image that, in time will become notorious and without doubt recognisable to all football followers as a CFG indicator.
The association with New York City FC reaped its rewards early on with over 18,000 season tickets bought for the newest team in the MLS, higher than any other club in their opening 2015/16 season. Melbourne City FC were also able to boast the impact the connection with other clubs had aided the club’s growth; turnover doubled in the first season of collaboration, with season ticket holders rising to 140%. The increase in support has grown to New York FC offering new, innovative ways to increase engagement, such as the latest ‘Pitchside Seating Club’ where members can find themselves sat in a similar row than than the substitutes and at eye-level with those playing, a truly unique experience for football fans.
The collaboration of all four teams has presented the footballing industry with food for thought of new ways of increasing engagement with supporters in all corners of the globe. City Football Groups fresh idea of creating a worldwide brand has brought success in off-field affiliations, with increased numbers of businesses looking to affiliate themselves with CFG, but also on the field too, with all teams boasting success in 2016, finishing or currently standing in top four positions. Other business tycoons will be following CFG intently and taking notes, as no doubt the branding example has raised the bar with combination of football and business.