Hearts a flutter as EPL giants buy club
CONFIRMATION that a consortium led by English giant Manchester City has bought an 80% stake in Melbourne Heart is obviously great news for the struggling club, and the A-League.
But the news must come with a degree of caution about the long-term intentions of City owner Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed and the Abu Dhabi
United Group that he heads.
Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano said "We are excited about the opportunity to make Melbourne Heart one of the most successful football clubs in Australia and throughout the region.
"We believe the strong sports culture of Melbourne, combined with the football and commercial expertise within our consortium, will make for a powerful combination both on and off the pitch."
But just what City can gain from this acquisition is the main question that has to be asked.
Sheikh Mansour is believed to be worth a trillion dollars, and no doubt his considerable wealth has helped the Manchester club go from being one of the alsorans of English football into a world super power.
However, the Sheikh cannot splash the cash as he did after taking over at City to ensure success - the salary cap system used by the A-League will ensure that.
The money will obviously allow the Heart to bring in higher quality marquee players, but every other player that will come in will have to fit under the salary cap, so big-name signings across the board are not on the agenda.
So what will Melbourne Heart get in return from its new
Obviously there is a bucket-load of money which will keep the club financially secure for the foreseeable future.
But it is off the field where apparently Heart will see some benefits.
The Manchester City football academy is due to open in June and according to reports yesterday, Heart coaching staff, officials and players will be
heading to the north west of England to learn from the best in the world during the A-League off-season.
The Heart could also see the best of the rest from Manchester City, or the New York City franchise which Sheikh Mansour has recently acquired, being loaned to play in the A-League.
That has its downside because whatever the players are paid by the Manchester club would come under the Heart's salary cap.
It is also important for Football Federation Australia to make sure Melbourne Heart does not become just a feeder club for Manchester City.
FFA chief David Gallop said the acquisition of the Melbourne Heart licence, with the other 20% to be owned by a Bart Campbell-led consortium from NRL club Melbourne Storm, was a huge vote of confidence in the future of the A-League - and I have to agree with him.
"Manchester City and their Australian partners have made a strategic investment and I welcome them to our growing competition," Gallop said.
"It's another sign that the world is taking notice of Australian football."