The Melbourne Heart has confirmed the A-League club has been acquired by a consortium led by English Premier League powerhouse Manchester City.
The 80 per cent acquisition will be completed by another consortium – which includes the owners of the NRL’s Melbourne Storm – in a 20 per cent minority share.
Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano says the Premier League club is excited by the opportunity to invest in the A-League.
“We are excited about the opportunity to make Melbourne Heart one of the most successful football clubs in Australia and throughout the region,” Soriano said in a statement.
“We believe the strong sports culture of Melbourne combined with the football and commercial expertise within our consortium will make for a powerful combination both on and off the pitch.”
“The first thing we must do is take the time to listen and learn and then to develop our strategy for strengthening the club over time.”
The new ownership group says it will not be making any major announcements until mid-2014 out of respect for the coaching staff and players in the middle of the A-League season.
Vote of confidence in the A-League: Gallop
FFA chief executive David Gallop said the acquisition was a huge vote of confidence in the A-League’s future.
“Football has moved into the mainstream of Australian sport and is ideally placed to benefit from the boom in football across Asia,” Gallop said in a statement.
“Manchester City and their Australian partners have made a strategic investment and I welcome them to our growing competition. It’s another sign that the world is taking notice of Australian football.
“Manchester City and their partners will bring a high level of expertise in football and sports business matters and that can only strengthen the Melbourne Heart and the … A-League as a whole.”
Storm owner and chairman Bart Campbell says the NRL club is relishing the chance to strengthen its relationship with a fellow Melbourne sporting franchise.
“We are excited to be a part of this unique project,” he said.
“It is our shared ambition to replicate the model that City created with the New York Yankees around New York City FC and for both organisations to benefit as a result.”
City’s investment in the Heart follows its establishment of New York City Football Club in May 2013, which will enter Major League Soccer in the United States in the 2015 season.