Back in 2008 when the Abu Dhabi United Group took over Manchester City, football began to change financially. From bids of £32.5 million for Robinho of Real Madrid to £100 million being spent in one summer window, the world realised the financial flex of the UAE.

Claims of buying titles and trophies soon followed with the success of Manchester City, but one thing that went unnoticed was the buying of stakes within other clubs. Manchester City was the first club for the Abu Dhabi United group to invest in, but from this purchase, the City Football Group (CFG) was born.

Manchester City hired Ferran Soriano, the former Barcelona Economy Vice President, as their CEO in 2012 and revived ambitions he had held at Barcelona before.

Soriano was very keen to introduce a global footballing entity at Barcelona and even got as far as contacting the MLS Commissioner to spitball about a Barcelona-branded MLS franchise. However, Soriano’s vision soon came to an abrupt end, when he and several other board members resigned in protest of Joan Laporta.

Following his appointment, Soriano decided to reopen these talks, and this was the start of the CFG investments across the world.

The Save

The above is a screenshot of what nations will be loaded throughout this save. I have taken each country I will be managing in, and added countries that directly border it via land or maritime. The only change to be made to the above, is to include the UK maritime borders not already included in the above, which are Denmark & Norway.

From the featured image for this blog post, you will notice there is a slight change from the original announcement tweet:

I had been holding off on this post in the hopes that an Indian database would be made available to include Mumbai City FC. Unfortunately, there is nothing currently available, and I am inclined to continue to hold off given the progress of my Como blog.

With the leagues loaded out of the way, it is now time to discuss the logic with club order, and what that will mean for me.

I have elected to order the CFG clubs by their reputation on FM22, and I can only move up to the next in rank. For me to be able to move on from my current club, the following must be ticked off:

  • The country’s top-tier league must be won
  • The continent’s Champions League must be won

I am going to start this save off in typical journeyman fashion, with no badges and Sunday League experience. Given that this is going to be a long haul of a save, there is no immediate need to have the best possible badges and experience available to my manager. This should add an element of difficulty to the save.

To start off with the save, we will begin life in Chengdu as manager of Sichuan Jiuniu Football Club. Formed only 5 years ago in January 2017 and playing their football in the Chinese Jia League, the City Football Group acquired 28% of shares in the club back in February 2019.

Sichuan finished 5th in their regular season group of the 2020 season (amended due to COVID-19) and then avoided relegation by finishing 3rd in their relegation group. Wanting to build on from this for the 2021 season, they recorded an 8th-placed finish and they currently sit 6th, 15 points off promotion with 6 games left to play.

Will we be the first manager to take the side from Chengdu up to the Super League and fight with the big boys of China and Asia?

Moving on from China, our next club will see us travel 11,245 miles to take charge of Montevideo City. CFG took control of Club Atlético Torque back in 2017 to benefit from South American knowledge and then look to strengthen the club’s future by building a new sports complex, refurbing the current stadium and then proposing new plans to move the side into the city to attract more fans.

The club at the time were playing their football in the Segunda División Profesional but had raced their way to the title and would be playing top-flight football for the first time in the club’s 14-year history. Unfortunately, their maiden season ended in relegation, however, they did bounce straight back up before securing 4th in the 2020/21 season.

Will we be able to battle Penarol and secure the club’s first piece of top-flight silverware? Will we be able to compete within the Copa Libertadores and shock the continent in doing so? Time will tell!

From the heat of Uruguay to the lesser heat of European summers, we travel from Montevideo to the city of Lommel, Belgium, right on the Netherlands border. Competing in the Belgian First Division B currently, the side has taken many names and shapes over the years, before merging with third-division team KFC Racing Mol-Wezel in 2010 which changed the club’s fortunes for the worse.

The side lost a lot of their starting players, and so a rebuild was carried out filling the side with youth players. This took a couple of years for the club to find its feet once again, and in 2014-15 the youngsters managed to secure a second-place finish. The following season the club narrowly missed out on promotion to their current division, but after that point matters got worse; the club suffered relegation to the amateur division after winning three games.

With the club now back in the second tier of Belgian football, it is our time to take the club to the top and battle it out with the Belgian elites; Club Brugge, Anderlecht, Standard Liege and Royale Union Saint-Gilloise.

We then move south towards Sicily to take over a much loved Italian side in the shape of Palermo. Following losing Dybala to Juventus back in 2015, Palermo was on a steep decline as they narrowly avoided relegation on the final day of the season. After this season, numerous managerial changes happened, proposed takeovers fell through and financial disasters occurred for this once-great club.

Now playing their football in Serie B, it has been a long time coming for the Sicilian club who won Serie D at the first time of asking, before winning the Serie C playoffs to bring them back to touching distance of Italy’s promised land.

It is up to me to turn this club’s fortunes around once and for all, as we will look to take the club back to the European stage and battle it out with Italy’s biggest and best.

It is time to go under and head over to one of CFG’s original investments. Melbourne City has been in the portfolio since 2015. In that time, they have won back-to-back A-League championships in 2020/21 & 2021/22, but are yet to make a mark on the Champions League.

As of May 2022, Melbourne City is ranked 45th in the AFC Club Rankings and it will be up to us to ensure that they soar up the rankings as we press on for Champions League glory.

Oh, this year I’m off to sunny Spain, y viva España! Catalonia to be exact- we set off for Girona right in the heart of Catalonia. It will be a mammoth task competing in Spain against the likes of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, but anything will certainly be possible as we look to bring over the beach balls and sombreros for a party atmosphere.

Currently competing in the Segunda division, we will be looking to bring them back up to La Liga and ensure their stay lasts longer than 2 seasons compared to their stint in the division during 2017 and 2019; a 10th-place finish was their best there.

Espérance Sportive Troyes Aube Champagne, or as we know them, Troyes is the next pit stop. One-time winner of the UEFA Intertoto Cup, the side was a yo-yo club between Ligue 1 and 2 over the 2000s but has finally got themselves back into the Ligue 1 this year and is looking to make this stay permanent.

Perhaps one of the trickiest teams on this list given the gulf between Paris-Saint-Germain and the rest of the French league, it will be a challenge to ensure the club is sustainable but competitive to take the Parisians the distance.

Start spreading the news. I’m leaving today. I want to be a part of it (sort of, the MLS scares me), New York, New York. Soriano’s original jewel in the CFG portfolio, and the first club that brought a global footballing entity to life. New York City was the 20th MLS franchise to take to the professional game and has certainly been pushing the more settled American sides. NYCFC won their first MLS Cup in 2021, whilst winning their conference on two occasions, and runners-up on three; the only domestic trophy missing to date is the Supporters’ Shield.

In the North American Champions League, they have reached the semi-finals most recently – losing to Seattle Sounders – and the quarter-finals to Mexican side UNAL. It is still early days for the American team in terms of laying down a marker, but they may need someone to propel them onward to that glory.

And finally, our destination. Once all leagues and Champions Leagues have been claimed by the previous 8 sides, it is time to come home to the UK and take control of Manchester City. By the time I get to this, I am hoping that a lot will have changed in England, and more competition will be around. Who knows, it could be a massive rebuild for Manchester City.

Not as if this club needs any introduction. One of the world’s most exciting and relentless sides going at the moment, but that elusive Champions League keeps escaping Pep’s grasp – Messi might be available by the end of this season Pep!

So, the introduction to the series and the logistics behind it. An eventful journey and one that will be challenging. Patience is the name of the game when it comes to this one, especially having to build a Belgian, Italian and French side that is capable of overthrowing their leagues and then Europe.

One thought on “City Building – The Prologue

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