New York City FC will already have a sister club Down Under when they begin MLS play in 2015, with the announcement Wednesday that majority owners Manchester City FC have purchased a controlling share of the A-League's Melbourne Heart, effective immediately.
Much like City's partnership with Major League Baseball's New York Yankees in the establishment of NYCFC, the ownership group of the Melbourne Storm of Australia's National Rugby League will have a minority stake (20 percent) in the soccer team.
“We are excited about the opportunity to make Melbourne Heart one of the most successful football clubs in Australia and throughout the region," said Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano (pictured), who also played a central role in the establishment of NYCFC, 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."
Melbourne Storm chairman Bart Campbell – also the chairman of the Heart's new minority ownership group – drew a direct comparison between the Yankees' involvement with the MLS expansion team and his own team's partnership with Manchester City and the Heart, saying in a statement, "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 organizations to benefit as a result”.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Soriano assured fans that City's interest in the Heart would a long-term project, and that much like NYCFC, the Heart would have many of the English side's resources at their disposal to develop a competitive team, even if they wouldn't necessarily be bringing in City players.
"This is not a small Manchester team, this is a Melbourne team that will use the resources of the City group," Soriano was quoted as saying. "Conceptually they are very different so when people ask if we will bring Manchester City players, I say probably not – we're going to bring the players who are needed in Melbourne."