Finance

How City are going global

MANCHESTER CITY are not only Premier League champions, but they are rapidly becoming one of the most innovative football clubs.

City, or at least the City Football Group (CFG), have broadened their global footprint, with club connections in all corners of the world. Nuria Tarre, the Chief Marketing Officer of the group, explained that underpinning CFG’s growth is the awareness that 40% of the world’s population likes football and the fact that the game is the number one participation sport in 59% of all countries. Furthermore, football is the top TV sport in 75% of all the world’s growing markets.

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Tarre said that CFG has successfully built an international brand portfolio. CFG has three clubsunder the City brand, Manchester City, Melbourne City and New York City, and three others where the organisation has a stake: Club Atlético Torque (Uruguay, Yokohama F Marinos (Japan) and Girona (Spain).

Speaking at a recent Football Forum hosted by Brand Finance, Tarre said that all clubs from CFG share common brand pillars. “We play the same type of beautiful football across all clubs, we use football as a force for social good and we have a global vision of outreach and fan engagement,” she added.

The City Football Group also allows players to develop across the franchise, hence clubs within the group often loan players between themselves. Although this is often viewed negatively by other clubs, Tarre added that the group is managed globally with an eye for local opportunities.

CFG has prioritised a strong digital strategy and has emerged as a front-runner in this aspect of fan communication. Tarre said that given the start of City’s growth trajectory was not so long ago, it could leverage digital content delivery easily. Today, City is one of the leading clubs for branded digital content. “We have set ourselves a series of targets,” she said. “Millenials are a core target audience and are, effectively, the City fans of the future. Similarly, women supporters represent a big untapped opportunity.” The club estimates that around 40% of global football fans are female.

But where are City expecting to grow in the future? The home market, the UK, is an obvious source for further growth, but China, India, Brazil and South-East Asia (Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea) are also high on the agenda. Brazil, a market that has received a boost from City’s capture of the popular Gabriel Jesus, is already growing because of the young forward. “We consider that if you want to be credible in football, you have to have credibility in Brazil,” insisted Tarre.

There’s one area that City are already ahead of the vast majority of rivals, the burgeoning world of eSports. City was the first English Premier League club to launch an eSports team in FIFA online. New York City have one player, Manchester City two and Melbourne one. In June, the club announced it had expanded its eSports capability to China.

City have also broken new ground with a new behind-the-scenes series on Amazon, a strategic partnership which Tarre called, “Very brave”.

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