After Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s Abu Dhabi United Group bought Manchester City in 2008, the company, which is now known as City Football Group, has been on a massive spending spree, buying up clubs around the world.
It now presides over a portfolio of teams that includes New York City FC, Melbourne City FC, Yokohama F. Marinos and Girona. The group’s most recent acquisition was Mumbai City F.C., a club that competes in the Indian Super League.
City Football Group announced that it had acquired a 65% stake in the club at the end of November last year. This made it the eight football team that the company had purchased. Alongside CFG, Ranbir Kapoor, a well known Indian actor and movie producer agreed to remain as a minority shareholder.
Just as it has with its other clubs, including Manchester City, the company began using its vast resources and experience to make improvements.
Mumbai City is yet to win a league title and has only made it to the postseason playoffs on two occasions since the Indian Super League began in 2014. City Football Group hopes to change this in the coming years.
CFG bought the club part way through the 2019/20 season, giving them limited opportunities to make any changes that would materially change the outcome of that year. Mumbai City finished 5th, one spot shy of a spot in the playoffs.
They missed out by just three points, though they had a -4 points difference.
Instead, the focus was on 2020/21 and beyond, and the club has begun making changes to improve performance.
This has seen Sergio Lobera appointed as the team’s new manager. Joining the team at the beginning of August, Lobera has signed an initial one year contract after three years at the helm of FC Goa.
In his first year as manager at Goa, Lobera led the club to the playoffs. In 2019, they won the Indian Super League for the first time. CFG and Mumbai City are hoping that the Spaniard can have a similar effect for them.
On the pitch, major changes have been made too. 15 players have left the club, including seven that haven’t been signed by any other teams. No money has been raised from these sales, with the remaining eight being free transfers.
A further nine players have joined, with a minuscule £54,000 being spent to sign Vikram Pratap Singh, a right-winger that previously played for the Indian Arrows. The others have been free transfers, most notably three defensive players from Lobera’s former club.
Interestingly, Lobera hasn’t signed any new strikers, instead, focusing on defence. This is likely a sensible move given the clubs 29 goals against last season.
Can Mumbai City Repeat Manchester’s Success?
It’s too soon to tell how much of an impact these changes will have. The Indian Super League is a very different competition to the Premier League and Mumbai is a very different club to Manchester City.
That said, CFG has what it takes to create a winning team, and we may see that come to fruition when the new league starts in November.