Yanks, Manchester FC get MLS franchise

The Yankees are enhancing their commitment to big-time soccer. Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber announced Tuesday that a partnership of global sports powers, the Yankees and Manchester City Football Club, has acquired the League’s 20th expansion club. The team will be named New York City Football Club and expects to begin play in 2015.

“We proudly welcome two of the most prestigious professional global sports organizations to Major League Soccer,” Garber said. “This is a transformational development that will elevate the league to new heights in this country. The New York area is home to more than 19 million people, and we look forward to an intense crosstown rivalry between New York City Football Club and the New York Red Bulls that will captivate this great city.”

“New York is a legendary sports town, as well as a thriving global city with a rapidly expanding soccer fan-base,” said Manchester FC chief executive officer Ferran Soriano, who will oversee the process of filling top New York City FC leadership positions in the weeks to come. “We are thrilled to contribute to the energy and growth of New York City Soccer. In the Yankees, we have found the absolute best partner for developing a world-class sports organization and a winning team that will carry the New York City Football Club name with pride.”

Manchester City will be the majority owner of the new Club. As an investor, the Yankees will be an active member of the ownership group. The Yankees and Manchester City Football Club have an existing commercial relationship through Legends Hospitality, LLC, an international entertainment, hospitality and marketing organization. Yankee Stadium will be the site of a “friendly” match Saturday between Manchester City and Chelsea FC.

“We are pleased to be associated with this major move by MLS to increase its presence in the New York market and to enhance the opportunity for New York soccer fans to enjoy high-level play in their own city,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said. “We look forward to the opportunity to work with Manchester City to create something very special for the soccer fans of New York and to bringing another terrific team to this city for all sports fans to enjoy. Randy Levine, president of the New York Yankees, will be the point person in leading the effort to launch and establish the team on behalf of the organization.”

The New York/New Jersey area is one of North America’s most vibrant and proud soccer communities. The region has filled stadiums for countless marquee soccer events including the 1994 FIFA Men’s World Cup, the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, three MLS All-Star Games and numerous international exhibition matches. NYCFC will become the first MLS club whose home will be located within the five boroughs, joining the Red Bulls as the second MLS club in the metropolitan area.

“Soccer is one of the world’s most exciting and popular sports, and it should be played on the world’s biggest stage – in New York City,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said. “New Yorkers are the greatest sports fans in the world, and they will welcome a Major League Soccer franchise with the full-throated and loyal support they are famous for.

“Manchester City has a great reputation for both winning teams and serious community investment, and that will help them fit in well with the excellent leadership of New York City’s other professional sports teams. Increasingly, sports events and activities from the NHL playoffs to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game to the Super Bowl are spurring economic growth as our investments in new arenas and infrastructures are paying off.”

New York City FC is committed to seeking a new permanent stadium in New York. Until that time, the new team is arranging to play in an interim home beginning in its inaugural MLS season in 2015. Over the past year, MLS began discussions with the City of New York and other stakeholders about the possibility of constructing a new stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. The Club’s new management will continue these discussions with local government officials, community residents and businesses, soccer leagues, and MLS. The Club will continue to review other potential sites as well.

“New York City FC will have a permanent home in the City in the great traditions of New York sports and world soccer, a home that must be a sports, commercial and civic success,” Soriano said. “But in considering any stadium site, we will listen first. This is what we have always done in Manchester and what we will do in New York. Only in this way, can the Club truly represent the City whose name it will carry.

Manchester City is a leader among sports organizations in its charitable efforts, with one-sixth of its staff fully dedicated full-time to community outreach. Building on this tradition of community outreach, New York City FC will expand and enhance the grassroots youth soccer program “City Soccer in the Community,” which it has been running in New York since 2010.

The program, now headquartered at PS 72 (Lexington Academy) in East Harlem, which boasts New York City’s only rooftop soccer field, provides quality soccer instruction and programming to thousands of children in 20 city public schools each year. New York City FC plans to expand its community outreach to bring soccer to thousands of more kids throughout the five boroughs.

Manchester City has funded the construction of soccer facilities for youth in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C. Since new ownership took over five years ago, Manchester City has gained its place as one of England’s most successful football clubs and one of the fastest growing clubs in the world. Last spring, Manchester City won the 2012 Barclay’s Premier League Championship. This year it finished second in the League and was the FA Cup runner-up. Manchester City FC is wholly owned by the Abu Dhabi United Group.

The Yankees, of course, are baseball’s most storied franchise with 27 World Series titles and 40 American League pennants.

Headquartered in New York, Major League Soccer is the top-flight professional soccer league in North America. MLS’s 18th season features 19 clubs each playing 34 regular-season matches. The clubs are Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo; 2012 MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy, Montreal Impact, New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC, Sporting Kansas City, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

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