Question mark over Manchester City purchase of local football club

A Manchester City delegation, led by City Football Group CEO Ferran Soriano (right), met Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman in Putrajaya last week.

KUALA LUMPUR: Football fans in Malaysia have been left completely baffled about the reported interest of English champion Manchester City’s owner in buying one of the local clubs.

This follows a statement by Tunku Mahkota Johor (TMJ) Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim that the team is not buying any clubs and was in Malaysia just to meet a sponsor.

Last Thursday, a City delegation, led by City Football Group CEO Ferran Soriano met Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman at the Youth and Sports Ministry Tower in Putrajaya.

Syed Saddiq then announced the interest of buying a club was one of the two initial plans discussed, besides a collaboration on the development of youth, through the National Football Development Programme (NFDP) as well as Mokhtar Dahari Academy (MDA) in Gambang, near Kuantan.

But according to a text received by Tunku Ismail from Soriano yesterday, the 51-year-old Spaniard mentioned that he was in Kuala Lumpur to meet one of their commercial sponsors and learn about Malaysian football.

“HRH TMJ… This is Ferran Soriano, City Football Group. Joan Laporta (former Barcelona president) passed me your contact. I am leaving KL today on my way to New York.

“I will let you know when I am back in Malaysia and would be honoured to meet you.

“I was here to meet one of our commercial sponsors and took the opportunity to learn more about Malaysian football.

“I know you visited our training ground and Pep Guardiola recently. I hope we were of help. Let me know if there is something else we can do for you,” wrote Soriano.

On Friday, TMJ, who is also the chairman of the Malaysian Football League (MFL), posted a text he received from a person named Tincho 2 on his Instagram’s Story that according to Laporta, Soriano told him that they are not buying any clubs.

“Ferran told me it’s an exaggeration. He is in KL visiting a sponsor.

“In a courtesy hearing, the minister made this statement. They have an interest in Malaysia, as in any other country, but they are not buying any clubs,” according to Laporta’s text which Tincho 2 forwarded to Tunku Ismail.

City Football Group was founded in 2014 and City’s first sister club was established in New York.

Besides Manchester City, the group also owns and has shares in New York City FC (United States), Melbourne City (Australia), Yokohama F Marinos (Japan), Atletico Torque (Uruguay) and Spanish side Girona FC.

They then further extended their influence in world football and increased their portfolios to seven clubs by purchasing Sichuan Jiuniu last February, which became their first ever club in China.