The City Football Group is looking to set up a Japanese subsidiary by next summer with an eye on eventually owning a controlling stake in the J. League’s Yokohama F. Marinos, sources have told Kyodo News through Wednesday.
CFG, which owns Premier League champion Manchester City, currently holds approximately 20 percent of Marinos’ shares that it purchased in May from the team’s majority owner, Nissan Motor Co.
The J. League does not allow outright foreign ownership of a club, but does allow it if the interest from abroad is subsidized in Japan — as CFG is aiming to do.
CFG, which also owns soon-to-be-launched New York City FC in Major League Soccer and Melbourne City of the Australian A-League, has already exercised considerable influence at Yokohama, helping Marinos select their new manager, Erick Mombaerts.
The Frenchman was on a list of around 20 names compiled by CFG that included few Japanese, the sources said, with the Abu Dhabi-based outfit in the process of shortlisting Marinos’ foreign players for the 2015 season.
CFG could be the white knight Nissan has needed as Marinos have struggled to generate a profit for the member of the Renault family. If the CFG model succeeds, it could trigger a wave of interest from overseas, which the expansion-thinking J. League would certainly welcome.