By Paul Kennedy
MLS finally announced the owners for its 20th team to begin play in New York, and the surprise is with the word "owners."
For weeks now, Manchester City has been mentioned as the group interested in buying the New York team to be named New York City FC, but the English club will be joined by the New York Yankees as active investors in the club, which is slated to begin play in 2015.
NYCFC will have not one but two deep-pocketed organizations to draw from.
Manchester City is owned by the private investment group Abu Dhabi United Group whose owner Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan is a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family. The Yankees are the richest team in MLB with revenues of $471 million in 2012, far more than any other team.
NYCFC won't be the first MLS club to be associated with a major foreign soccer club -- there is, of course, Chivas USA -- nor will it be the first MLS club to link up with a major American sports club.
New England, Toronto, Los Angeles and Seattle, to name just four, are all clubs whose investors are deeply involved in North American pro sports in one way or another.
Nor are the Yankees strangers to soccer. They have been involved in the international game for more than a decade, going back to the days of YankeeNets marketing group that struck deals with Manchester United and ChampionsWorld. (Yankee Stadium will host a Man City-Chelsea friendly on Saturday and a Spain-Ireland match June 11.)
NYCFC will launch in 2015, sooner than a new stadium MLS hopes to build in Queens could be finished, so it will have to play in a temporary location "for two years, maybe three," according to Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano.
"We'll see," Soriano said of NYCFC's home. "And we have several options for that. There are many big stadiums in New York."
MLS commissioner Don Garber said the ownership agreement on MLS's New York franchise means the Manchester-City-Yankees group "will have their own process and take their own time to ensure that they put together the right type of home for their club."
(More information on the status of the New York stadium search will be available at a press conference scheduled for Wednesday in New York. Yes Network will televise it live.)
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