Manchester City is reportedly close to securing ownership rights to an expansion team in MLS. The team will be known as New York City Football Club and play at the proposed soccer-specific stadium in the borough of Queens.
City has denied the report, but sources close to the discussions say the deal is nearing completion, according to Bloomberg news.
City would pay an expansion fee of $100 million to operate the franchise. That figure is $60 million more than the previous high for an MLS expansion team. City would own a majority stake in the team, but Mansour is reportedly interested in selling a minority share to local investors.
The report adds that City officials approached David Beckham about being involved with the team. The former England captain is leaving the L.A. Galaxy at the end of December. He will join another team for “one last adventure,” but promises to remain involved with MLS — in an unspecified capacity — going forward.
MLS is working with government officials on the Queens stadium project. The privately financed facility would cost around $350 million. MLS hopes to break ground by 2014 and launch the new team and facility in the 2016 season. New York City Football Club would be Major League Soccer’s 20th team.
Since buying City in 2008, Mansour has spent over £500 million ($808 million) on player salaries and transfer fees. The investment has transformed the club into one of England’s elite teams. MLS has financial constraints that would prevent Mansour (or any other owner) from a similar splash in MLS.
City already has a toehold in NYC, having built a rooftop soccer facility at a public school in Harlem in June. Running an MLS team in NYC would see City establish a beachhead in America’s largest media market and help spread its brand around the world.