A soccer diary from across the pond

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

New York City FC

So there it is. As expected MLS has announced an expansion team in New York City and the Manchester City FC is the primary owner.

I'm not sure exactly how to feel about this. On one hand its nice to see someone ready to spend, that amount of money on soccer in the US, but on the other hand I'm wary about the direct involvement of Manchester City.

Previously the reports focused on Manchester City's owners rather than the club itself, and while it may seem like semantics to some, it would be easier for NYCFC to have its own independent identity had been Sheik Mansour personally owning the club rather than Manchester City. 

Chivas USA has shown all too well how these kinds of brand extensions are extremely difficult in soccer. You reject the people who dislike the mother brand and many of the brand loyals of the mother brand will just see the extension as a cheap knock off.

Manchester City has been doing good things in New York and across the country building soccer fields and supporting talent development, but I fear that New York City FC will fail if this is just an attempt, at creating new Manchester City fans and selling more MCFC shirts.

This is a risky move for MLS as it would reflect very negatively on MLS' image and brand if this experiment fails, something the league doesn't need as it has been going through a very positive development over the last decade.

Breaking through in the New York media landscape would be a major accomplishment for MLS, but the stakes are high.

It will be very fascinating to see what NYCFC does in terms of brand and identity, and what the specific relationship to Manchester City will be.

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