City Football Group, the owner of English Premier League side Manchester City, has confirmed the purchase of third-tier Chinese football team Sichuan Jiuniu, making the Chengdu-based outfit the seventh club in the global CFG portfolio.
Due to Communist Party regulations around foreign ownership, the acquisition has been made alongside two Chinese firms: investment vehicle China Sports Capital, whose owner CMC Inc. purchased a minority share in CFG in 2015, and Ubtech, an AI and robotics company which has been a Commercial Partner of Manchester City since 2016.
Sichuan Jiuniu currently plays in China League Two, the third tier of Chinese football. The 2019 season kicks off next month, with four of the division’s 32 teams set to be promoted to China League One, the level below the Chinese Super League.
Ferran Soriano, the chief executive of CFG, said that the group had been “focused for some time” on acquiring a Chinese club, with the group already having strong ties to the country. As well as the investment from CMC, a second Chinese firm, CITIC Capital, also has a minority shareholding in CFG, which has offices in Shanghai and Shenzhen.
Alongside its flagship club, Manchester City, CFG also owns all or part of New York City FC, Melbourne City FC, Uruguay’s Club Atlético Torque, Japan’s Yokohama F Marinos, and Spanish side Girona FC.
CFG has previously expressed an aim to own and operate a football club on each continent. Africa remains the only continent without a CFG presence.