How Frank Lampard played for Manchester City after signing for New York City FC
After the Premier League confirmed that Frank Lampard was registered as a Manchester City player for the rest of the season, fans the world over have been in an uproar. The main issue concerns the matter of how the Sky Blues may have bent the rules to sign a player who signed a pre-contract with New York City FC and ended up in the club that are his Chelsea’s rivals in the title race.
The former England international spent 13 years at Stamford Bridge and is the Blues’ leading goalscorer. Although he was a free agent and mentioned that he’d never play for another EPL club, the world looked on incredulously as the Chelsea legend scored an equalizer against his former club, thereby ending the London club’s 100% winning start to the season. The fact that he will play the entire season at Manchester City instead of joining the New York side in January as expected has come under severe criticism.
In an interview with <The Times, Lampard explained exactly how the deal to stay at the Etihad the entire season came about. We have listed the events in chronological order.
1) May 2014: Chelsea do not extend Frank Lampard’s contract
Without a contract, Lampard was a free agent and free to sign with any club.
“As José touched on recently, the club moved on,” Lampard said. “They didn’t extend my contract. José himself told me that at the end of the season, which is the way I would have wanted it because he was such a pivotal character in my Chelsea career.”
“They didn’t extend my contract. That was that. I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye and thank you to the fans
Lampard wasn’t the only key player to leave. Other players, even those who spent a number of successful years at Chelsea, like Ashley Cole, were also released. But he wasn’t ready to retire and the 2014 World Cup was around the corner.
2) June 2014: New York City FC make contact with Lampard
The club is a new Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise and is owned by the City Football Group (CFG). The group runs both Manchester City and New York City FC, apart from also running A-League club Melbourne City which signed David Villa.
The club’s chief executive Ferran Soriano, director of football Claudio Reyna and head coach Jason Kreis meet Lampard and pitch the possibility of playing for New York to him.
“Meetings started to happen on the New York front and it very quickly became the stand-out option,” Lampard said.
“I had options in the Premier League – only talked-about options — none of which I fancied, if I’m honest. I didn’t want to play for another Premier League club after Chelsea. I really didn’t.”
“New York was a really exciting challenge.”
3) July 2014: Lampard signs pre-contract with New York City FC after the World Cup
England were knocked out of the World Cup in the group stages and a few weeks later, Lampard signed a pre-contract agreement and a two-year deal with the City Football Group to join New York on January 1 – just before the club’s first season in the MLS.
When asked if he signed for City or New York, Lampard responded: “New York. It was 100 per cent New York. I had sat down with Ferran and it was all about New York. There was no mention of Man City.”
Lampard spent 10 days in New York taking in the sights and taking part in publicity campaigns, press conferences and discussions with Kreis and Reyna.
4) July 2014: Lampard mulls over six-month holiday before the MLS season in January
At first, Lampard was happy with a six-month break before the MLS season.
“To be honest, when I thought about five or six months off, I thought it was quite a result,” Lampard said.
“I thought ‘I’ve been playing solid for a long, long time. It will be a good break. I’ll find a way to keep fit’. I thought maybe I could train back at Chelsea or something.”
Lampard then spoke to David Villa’s fitness coach who told him he needed to train really hard to keep his fitness levels up since he was 36, just like Villa was doing for Melbourne City.
5) July-August 2014: City boss Manuel Pellegrini speaks to Lampard during pre-season tour in the US
Manchester City were in the United States for the pre-season tour and that was when manager Manuel Pellegrini spoke to Lampard and said he wanted the ex-Chelsea midfielder to play for the Citizens for the first half of the season.
Lampard, accused of using New York as a ruse to sign for Manchester City, says: “Some people think I had in my mind to go originally with that thought process. I didn’t. I certainly wouldn’t have booked two holidays and then cancelled them if I’d been planning all along to join City.”
“Is that what I want to do? I didn’t want to play for another English club. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it. I wasn’t sure about moving to Manchester.”
Lampard then spoke about how he still felt wanted by a top club at the age of 36. “I thought about the family and the fact that Man City wanted me, at 36, to come and be involved. It made complete sense on that front.”
When he was asked about the fact that he said he’d never play for another English club after Chelsea, he said: “I didn’t feel I would.”
“It’s fair to say that circumstances change. I had to weigh up whether it was a step I wanted to take.
“Would it make me feel any different about Chelsea? Certainly not. Would it make Chelsea fans feel like I had let them down? I hoped it wouldn’t.
6) August 2014: Manchester City confirm loan move for Lampard
Lampard joins Manchester city on loan from New York City FC till December 2014. After his move is confirmed, Pellegrini says: “He will start working with our team and he will be with us until January.
"He is working with the squad. He will fight for his position."
7) August-December 2014: Lampard scores crucial goals to help City’s title challenge
Lampard scores the winning goals for Manchester City against Leicester City (1-0) and Sunderland (3-2 on January 1st). He also scores the equalizer against Chelsea and refuses to celebrate his goal.
“In a million years, I wouldn’t celebrate if I scored against Chelsea. I swear to God, if I went to the [Stamford] Bridge and they booed me for 90 minutes and I scored the winner, I still wouldn’t celebrate.”
8) December 2014: Manchester City announce Lampard will stay at the Etihad till the end of the season in May
While he was supposed to leave Manchester City at the end of 2014 and join New York City in January, it was announced that Lampard would stay the remainder of the season and would move to New York only in July. That was when the confusion over whether Lampard had ever signed for New York came up.
“I have signed for New York,” Lampard said. “The original intention was for that to start on January 1.
“I signed a Man City agreement in the interim [in August 2014]. Now that has obviously changed. I have extended my period here and will join New York later.”
Lampard is then accused of engineering a move to Manchester City by using the New York move as a smokescreen.
“If I had wanted to come to Man City, then I would stand up and come to Man City. That wouldn’t have been a problem,” Lampard explained.
“And in terms of Man City being ‘sneaky’, they could have signed me on a free anyway if that’s what they and I had wanted to do. People mention Financial Fair Play, but what difference would that have made? No difference.”
“The fact is I signed with New York, then I signed for Man City in the interim and now it has been extended.”
9) January 2015: Lampard reassures New York City fans of his commitment
With his arrival to the MLS delayed, Lampard is still positive that he can do the job for New York when he arrives later this year.
“What I want to say to the New York people is that, yes, my start is going to be delayed by two or three months,” he said.
“But when I get there, I’m going to give everything, as I’ve given at Man City, as I’ve given at Chelsea before. I want to win.
He concluded by saying: “Yes, I’m coming that bit later now, but when I get there, I want to make up for lost time, simple as that.”
“Right now I’m at Man City and from July I will be 100% a New York player. For sure.”