City Football Group (CFG), the parent company of English Premier League champions Manchester City, is acquiring a 65% stake in Mumbai City FC in what is seen as a landmark deal for Indian football.

Abu Dhabi-controlled CFG already owns majority stakes in seven other clubs around the world, but this is the first time the company has made a major move into India.

Apart from Manchester City, its other clubs are New York City, Melbourne City in Australia, Yokohama F Marinos in Japan, Sichuan Jiuniu in China, Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay and Girona FC in Spain.

The company said in a statement that the remaining 35% stake in Mumbai FC will be held by Bollywood actor and film producer Ranbir Kapoor and financier Bimal Parekh, who founded the club when the Indian Super League was created in 2014.

Former England international Peter Reid once managed the club, while football greats Freddie Ljungberg, Nicolas Anelka and Diego Forlan also played there in the past.

And although Mumbai’s 8,000 capacity stadium is tiny in comparison with Manchester City’s, its new majority owners expressed confidence that the club would develop rapidly.

“We believe that this investment will deliver transformative benefits to Mumbai City FC, to City Football Group and to Indian football as a whole,” said Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of CFG.

“We are very much looking forward to playing an active role [with] Mumbai City FC’s fan and local communities and working with our co-owners to further develop the club as quickly as possible,” he added.

Also welcoming the investment, Nita Ambani, chairwoman of Football Sports Development Ltd, said: “It’s a landmark occasion that celebrates the remarkable rise of Indian football and brings to life our vision for the beautiful game in India.

“It is a great endorsement of the increasing appeal of Indian football and for all football fans in India. This is a moment to take pride in our football, our culture and the opportunity we present to the world in developing the sport.”

Meanwhile, Simon Chadwick, a sports academic at Salford University in the UK, noted that CFG CEO Ferran Soriano has spoken previously about wanting to turn football clubs into operations like Walt Disney.

He told Sport24 that the deal with Mumbai will use CFG’s capabilities not just in football management, but also entertainment, technology and business.

“By franchising in this way, CFG can serve multiple markets at the same time, thereby appropriately targeting local consumers and generating associated revenues,” he said.

Sourced from City Football Group, Sport24; additional content by WARC staff