As the news broke out of Manchester City teaming up with one of US/New York’s highly esteemed sporting organization, New York Yankees, to create MLS’s 20th team, the immediate thought was that Sheikh Mansour finally did it.
Being a shrewd businessman that he is, in sporting realms at least, he has managed to act upon the potential that the US and more specifically New York market has to offer in terms of commercial benefits and possibly a small step towards breaking down the negative Arab/Muslim perception existing in the country. With this latest acquisition he has also increased the number of football clubs under his ownership/part ownership to three with locally based Al Jazira being the earliest.
Signs of something to come from Manchester City existed though. They have had a strong presence in the New York area and Chicago primarily with their soccer schools and the work that they do with inner-city kids. Both cities had accepted them for that aspect of their generosity.
But it goes beyond that, with a population of 19 million in the area, there are larger non-sporting gains to be measured here in connection to UAE.
Etihad, the national airline of Abu Dhabi, after Emirates runs daily flights to the cosmopolitan city from Abu Dhabi. I will let your imaginations run wild here.
Abu Dhabi Tourism board (a sponsor of MCFC) with an opportunity to penetrate the US market could not pick any city more significant than New York.
Etisalat (a top telecom provider from UAE with interests in the region and beyond) gets to showcase itself to the increasing number of potential Americans considering a move to the country.
UAE has always had an interest in the US market for commercial purposes. From Godolphin horses at Kentucky to a stake at premium NYC based midtown hotel – the Jumeirah Essex among a few, it was all there. Ignoring the fact that UAE has had a failed attempt in 2006 to increase its global assets with the ownership of key ports in the US through Dubai Ports World, it seems like things are finally falling into place.
New York City had always been a city of two halves. You have the population split between MLB teams – New York Yankees and New York Mets, NFL teams – New York Giants and New York Jets, NBA teams – New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets and will soon be a city to two soccer teams – New York Red Bulls and New York City FC.
Only time will tell if this latest aspiration of Sheikh Mansour and company will be fruitful in the longer run. One thing is clear. In a region (Middle East) wherein the countries are trying to outclass one another at a global level, UAE has taken a major leap in its attempt to promote itself to the global audience.
PS: I personally cannot wait to get my hands on those famed NYC caps that I hope will come out in the colors of Manchester City.