Manchester City’s owners, City Football Group, are set to add Uruguayan second division side Atletico Torque to their portfolio of clubs.
CFG, the holding company owned by Sheikh Mansour, already counts City, Australia side Melbourne City, MLS’ New York City FC among their stable, while also possessing a stake in Japanese side Yokohama F. Marinos.
City itself also has close links to Spanish second tier side Girona, through their ties with Media Base Sports – the agency run by Pep Guardiola’s brother, Pere, and his business partner Jaume Roures.
City’s owners have increasingly been looking into South America as the next arm of CFG’s global expansion.
Now, Montevideo minnows Torque – whose stadium has only a 1,000 capacity – are set to become the latest partner club, reports Bloomberg. Torque would become the smallest member of the CFG stable by a considerable distance.
City CEO Ferran Soriano has been the man steering CFG’s expansion across the globe and has always wanted one club on each continent for a number of reasons, including the expansion of the City brand, as they look to become a bona-fide European power.
Another is player-related, and CFG’s purchase of Torque will ease the acquisition of South American players; City saw the signing of Gabriel Jesus delayed for a number of weeks due to a third-party claim from a former agent and are CFG are determined that similar doesn’t happen in future.
They are looking to follow the increasing MLS-trend of bringing in young, on-the-rise players to the US, as opposed to European veterans seeking a final pay day. The purchase of Torque will help with the practice.
City officials were opened up to the benefits of a Uruguayan club when signing Geronimo Rulli from Deportivo Maldonado – a club owned by a group of businessmen led by race-horse owner Malcolm Caine, who co-owns a horse called Curbyourenthusiasm with Gareth Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett – that the Argentine goalkeeper had never played for – last year.
CFG officials will be more than aware that Uruguayan clubs are very much under the FIFA microscope also. Teams have been fined for acting as “bridges” for bigger clubs in Brazil and Argentina to buy and sell players at a lower tax rate. Others, like Maldonado, have been used by investors as vehicles for third-party investment, banned by FIFA in 2015.
That was the case with Rulli, whose third-party ownership was ended when City purchased him last summer. Rulli was immediately moved on to Real Sociedad, where he had already been on loan.