Congratulations are due to Melbourne City, who emerged triumphant in the A-League Grand Final on Sunday to claim their first ever Australian championship.
City beat last season’s champions Sydney FC 3-1 to claim a historic first title, after also finishing two points clear of their rivals at the top of the regular-season table to win the Premier’s Plate.
This means that City Football Group (CFG), the global football club ownership organisation, can now boast three reigning league champions in three different countries.
Mumbai City were the first CFG-owned club to claim the honours in 2021, wrapping up their maiden Indian Super League title back in March with a decisive victory over ATK Mohun Bagan.
Manchester City followed suit shortly thereafter by winning the Premier League at a canter, before Melbourne City completed the hat trick at the weekend.
From the United States to Uruguay, CFG now own (or part-own) a portfolio of clubs dotted all around the world with many of their investments beginning to bear fruit in terms of on-pitch success.
Here’s a look at how all of the clubs under the CFG umbrella have fared since being taken over by the Abu Dhabi-owned, British-based company.
Manchester City (England)
CFG’s flagship club, City have undergone a vast overhaul since Sheikh Mansour and the Abu Dhabi United Group finalised their takeover in 2008. Officially, CFG came into the picture at City upon the group’s creation ahead of the 2013-14 campaign, securing the Premier League title in their first season followed by another three titles (2017-18, 2018-19, 2020-21) under Pep Guardiola, as well as a plethora of domestic cups. They still await glory on the European front, but City did reach their first Champions League final in 2020-21 only to be narrowly beaten by Chelsea.
Although City’s women’s team had existed since the late 1980s, they had only been affiliated with the club until the Abu Dhabi Group made it official by bringing them under the same roof in 2012. After CFG took the helm, City Women won their first major trophy with the 2014 FA Women’s League Cup before narrowly missing out on the league title in 2015. By this point they had firmly established themselves as a major force to be reckoned with and went on to win their first WSL title in 2016 before subsequently finishing runners-up every season since. They’ve also claimed the Women’s FA Cup on three occasions in 2016-17, 2018-19 and 2019-20.
📺 𝘼-𝙇𝙚𝙖𝙜𝙪𝙚 2021 𝙂𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙁𝙞𝙣𝙖𝙡 𝙝𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙨.
— Melbourne City FC (@MelbourneCity) June 27, 2021
CFG began their association with Melbourne City in 2014 when they entered into an ownership deal for the club (then called Melbourne Heart) in partnership with rugby league franchise Melbourne Storm. CFG then bought out Storm’s stake a year later and acquired full ownership, having rebranded the club as “Melbourne City” and changed the colour of their home kit from red-and-white stripes to sky blue.
Since then, the A-League club have gone on to win both the regular season and season finale in 2020-21, to add to the FFA Cup they won in 2016.
The club’s women’s was formed in 2015 and, with better infrastructure than many of their more established opponents, they took the W-League by storm, winning two premierships and four championships between 2015-16 and 2020.
Mumbai City (India)
Mumbai City were formed in 2014 and took part in the inaugural Indian Super League season that same year, though they struggled to compete and eventually finished seventh in an eight-team league. However, with CFG providing support, City’s fortunes have improved year on year to the point that they secured their first-ever ISL title at the seventh attempt. City won the league by pipping rivals ATK Mohun Bagan on goal difference before beating the same side 2-1 in the grand final to lift the championship back in March.
— LaLiga English (@LaLigaEN) June 5, 2017
Girona FC were first founded in 1930 and already boasted a long history of their own before CFG purchased a stake in the summer of 2017, shortly after the club had sealed their first-ever promotion to La Liga. At that point, the ownership of the club was split between CFG and a consortium led by Pere Guardiola, football agent and brother of Manchester City manager Pep.
Alas, Girona weren’t able to preserve their top-flight status for very long and were relegated back down into the Segunda Division on the final day of the 2018-19 campaign.
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) June 28, 2021
Originally a partnership between Manchester City and the New York Yankees baseball team, New York City were announced as a new expansion franchise in May 2013 and began competing in MLS two years later.
The two Citys have enjoyed a close working relationship, swapping players and coaches over the years. However, despite once boasting a squad that featured Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and Frank Lampard, NYCFC are yet to enjoy the same levels of success as their English counterparts, reaching the playoffs on multiple occasions but never coming close to the championship.
Yokohama F. Marinos (Japan)
In partnership with car manufacturers Nissan, CFG acquired a stake in Japanese side Yokohama F. Marinos in 2014. Since then, Marinos have been crowned J1 League champions once (2019), their first silverware of any kind since winning the Emperor’s Cup in 2013.
Montevideo City Torque (Uruguay)
In April 2017, CFG purchased Club Atletico Torque and quickly altered their name to add that familiar “City” branding. This also coincided with the Montevideo club ascending from the second tier to make their debut in the Uruguayan Primera Division in 2017-18. However, they ended the season in the relegation zone and duly dropped back down into the second tier, only to bounce straight back up to the top flight by winning the league in 2018-19.
Far from struggling, Torque then went on to finish a respectable third place in both the Apertura and Clausura stages of the 2020 Primera Division campaign, aided in no small part by their brand new state of the art training facility at the Montevideo City Football Academy.
Sichuan Jiuniu (China)
CFG purchased a stake in Chinese third-tier side Sichuan Jiuniu in February 2019, with promotion up into China League One (second tier) decided ahead of the 2020 season, w.
CFG became majority stakeholders in Belgian club Lommel in May of 2020, with the club competing in the First Division B — i.e. the second tier. Lommel therefore became the ninth club to join CFG and duly finished third in their maiden league campaign as part of the family after finishing bottom of the pile in 2019-20. The Belgian club are managed by Liam Manning, who previously worked as academy director for New York City until the summer of 2020, at which point he left one CFG club to join another.
The 10th and most recent club to be added to the portfolio, Troyes became a CFG club when the group purchased the shares belonging to former owner Daniel Masoni in September 2020. Troyes spent the 2020-21 season in the second tier but will be playing top-flight football alongside the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon next year after finishing the campaign as Ligue 2 champions.