By Debayan Mukherjee
Mumbai, Nov 29 (IANS) City Football Group’s imprint will take time to reflect on Mumbai City FC, but their expertise in developing other burgeoning football clubs across the globe will do the Indian Super League (ISL) side a world of good if the group’s vision is anything to go by.
“The interesting and compelling part of our proposition and the nature of our group is we have gathered and collected a lot of expertise not only in terms of the football environment but also the business and operational side so we have lots of sources of information and expertise that we have accumulated over the last several years by operating teams in Major League Soccer (MLS), A-League, China.
“So the ability to accumulate all that knowledge and expertise and share it now with our colleagues and the business here is something that we are really excited to deliver,” Damian Willoughby, who took over as CEO of City Football Group India, told IANS in an interview on his first day at office.
English Premier League champions Manchester City’s parent company, CFG, on Thursday announced that they have bought a majority stake (65 %) in Mumbai City, making it the eighth club in their stable worldwide.
Other clubs in the CFG network include New York City in the US, Melbourne City FC in Australia, Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan, Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay, Girona FC in Spain and Sichuan Jiuniu FC in China.
Asked about the agenda which will be on top of his list after assuming office, Willoughby said: “The agenda is to listen and learn and understand the football environment in India. Then we formulate a plan to grow the club, the league overall in the long run and Indian national team hopefully.”
He said the onus is to do the right thing for the long term and not the quick thing, like they have done with other clubs under their umbrella.
“We have patient board. Their onus is to do the right thing and not the quick thing. It will probably take us several months to get up to speed with the league, the club and the football dynamic and market, the fan base. That I’m sure medium to long term we can make positive changes.
“We will spend a lot of time evaluating the opportunity. Once we have done that we will be able to share the plans and aspirations we have moving forward,” he explained.
Mumbai City have never laid their hands on the coveted ISL trophy, with a semi-final finish being their best so far.
Willoughby, who is Senior Vice President of Partnerships at CFG, will now move to Mumbai with his family, previously looking after the global partnership business from Singapore. With 20 years of football management experience, he has been part of CFG for seven years.
“I am the CEO of the City Football Group in India. This is similar to other burgeoning football markets that we have entered into,” he said explaining his role.
“I am really excited to develop not only Mumbai City FC but the ISL and ultimately Indian football also,” he concluded.