The news that China Media Capital (CMC) and CITIC Capital have agreed to invest US$400 million to take over 13% of City Football Group (CFG) has already generated a big buzz in the UK and China alike.
The CFG is the owner of football related clubs and businesses including Manchester City, New York City, Melbourne City, and a minority shareholder in Japanese football association Yokohama F. Marinos.
As part of the deal, Li Ruigang will become the seventh member of the CFG board and new shares will be issued by the parent company. But Li, who is chairman of the two companies – China Media Capital and Citic Capital – that make up the consortium, will play no part in the day-to-day running of the Premier League club.
A good property to invest in
Li insisted that the new deal is not related to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the club in October, when ex-Man City defender Sun Jihai got inducted into National Football Hall of Fame.
Why is the Chinese businessman choosing Manchester City instead of other counterparts in the Premier League or other top European clubs?
In Li’s view, Manchester City are very successful both on and off the football field.
“We all know that MCFC have achieved good results both from the perspective of on-field performance and business development. The club has done a great job over the past few years ever since the Abu Dhabi consortium’s takeover. It is indeed a good project to invest in.”
Li also clarified why he chose a Premier League club. Speaking frankly, he said that, the Premier League, together with the NBA, is enjoying great popularity in China with a huge fanbase and media exposure.
“Most clubs in the League are very familiar to Chinese people and Sun Jihai once played for Man City.”
Li also revealed that there was intense competition during the negotiations as so many Chinese investors were interested in CFG. However, after six months of negotiations, CFG finally decided to accept the offer made by the consortium led by CMC and CITIC Capital.
High value Of CFG’s business mode
Li speaks highly of the “family club” business mode of CFG. “What we value so much is their way of running the whole business which has driven the club upward so quickly. The group in CFG, they are professionals, not only having expertise in soccer but also in how to run business. We believe it is very valuable to establish such a partnership, to work with the experienced team from CFG and to bring this business system to China for the future development of Chinese football.”
Source: Tencent Sports
Proofread by John Devlin