UAE's Sheikh Mansour said to eye US football franchise

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Abu Dhabi royal Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Abu Dhabi royal Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Abu Dhabi royal Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan is in final negotiations to establish a Major League Soccer franchise in New York City, according to the New York Times.

Sheikh Mansour, whose private investment group owns English Premier League side Manchester City, is reportedly prepared to pay a $100m expansion fee to setup the team, two sources familiar with the matter told the paper. The previous record for such an expansion fee was the $40m paid to found a side in Montreal in 2012.

The side, which would be Major League Soccer’s 20th franchise, would be based in the borough of Queens and named New York City FC. The team would start playing from 2016, the newspaper said.

Major League Soccer is said to want to make an announcement on the new team before May 25.

The New York Times also reported that months of negotiations for a privately financed, $340m football stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park should be concluded within the next few weeks.

The facility will be able to accommodate 25,000 spectators, with potential expansion to 35,000, according to several people familiar with the matter.

Foreign ownership is prevalent throughout European sport, but less commonplace in North American leagues.

Sheikh Mansour, who is also the oil-rich UAE’s deputy prime minister, bought Manchester City for $330m in 2008 and within four years transformed the side into English Premier League champions.

In 2012, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund completed a $130m deal to acquire French top tier side Paris St Germain.

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