Less than two weeks from today, City Football Group’s North American project vis-à-vis New York City Football Club (NYCFC) will kick start its ambitions to take over the American soccer scene.
A series of dialogue had surrounded the club since the announcement was made on May 21, 2013 clarifying its position as the twentieth franchise to MLS’s ever-growing roster.
It started with the naming of ex-Manchester City and American Hall of Famer – Claudio Reyna who justly suited as the clubs first appointment as sporting director. Then came the selection of the manager – Jason Kreis who was immediately put to work. The experienced coach travelled to Manchester in 2014 to work closely with Manuel Pellegrini, Patrick Vieira and Txiki Begiristain. During the time, Kreis was submerged in all aspects of Manchester City FC – its approach to coaching, training, and player development, with the intention of applying the same to NYCFC. The revelation of El Guaje (David Villa) as the club’s first designated player just made the club’s first game all the worth looking forward to.
Things were slowly falling into place.
That is until Frank Lampard showed up.
NYCFC had positioned itself in somewhat of a PR mess, drawing ire from fan groups and media. In July 2014, NYCFC had announced that the Englishman had “signed” a two-year contract as the club’s second designated player joining from August 2014. Within a few weeks, Manchester City declared that the midfielder would return to the Premier League on “loan” until January for it to later extend till the end of the season considering the club’s struggle to retain the Premier League title. Five months after NYCFC’s botched statement, both club and Lampard had only confirmed earlier this year that they had signed a contract, which is to begin from July 2015, midway through the MLS season.
NYCFC aimed to build on the combined traction of Lampard and Villa, to attract fans to the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The club capitalised on his name from a commercial perspective, but all those fans who bought tickets to the NYCFC’s home opener next month will have to wait a little longer to see the productive English midfielder.
That’s all settled for now at least.
On a positive, the intention to involve fans from the outset is something that the club will always be credited for. With its “Badge of Badges” campaign, NYCFC had invited fans to submit their own versions of potential club crests on a dedicated page narrowing it down to the best two. The two then went through a voting process, which involved the fans again, resulting on the selection that we see today. This, yet again, signified the importance placed on fan engagement by the CFG.
The question remains on how NYCFC as a club will be treated under the parent entity, as it embarks on its own attempt to create history, just like its famed city compatriots – the Yankees, the Knicks and so on.
However, as it stands today, like it or not, for New York City FC’s Abu Dhabi based owners there’s only one City that counts.