Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan has entered “final negotiations” to acquire Major League Soccer’s (MLS) New York expansion franchise, according to the New York Times.
The newspaper, citing two people with knowledge of the talks, reports Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United Group is prepared to pay a US$100 million franchise fee for the League’s 20th team. The fee would more than double the $40 million paid for the Montreal Impact, which became the 19th MLS franchise when it began play last year. The League is said to want to make the announcement before May 25, when Manchester City is scheduled to play a friendly game at Yankee Stadium against Chelsea.
MLS has previously outlined its hope that a 20th team will begin play in 2016 at a new stadium at a 10-acre site in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park – creating a rivalry with the New York Red Bulls. After months of public hearings, applications and discussions, the New York Times states a deal for the privately financed $340 million stadium, which would hold 25,000 spectators and could be expanded to 35,000, may be completed in several weeks.
Speaking last week, MLS commissioner Don Garber said he hoped to make an announcement regarding the stadium and the team in four to six weeks’ time.