Opinion: City Football Group at the heart of Girona's LaLiga fixture in USA
LaLiga matches return this coming weekend following the international break, as clubs look to gain crucial early points in the campaign. Girona will look for a second consecutive victory when they host Celta Vigo, but they have also raised many eyebrows off the pitch recently.
Reports have linked Girona and Barcelona with the first-ever international league fixture in the Spanish top flight, with Miami hosting the beginning of a 15-year commitment to stage one match in North America each year. The targeted date is January 27, a home match for Girona.
Football fans are rightfully upset, and not just necessarily Girona supporters. The competitive balance of a league season is now compromised, as well as taking arguably Girona's biggest game of 2018-19 away from the Estadi Montilivi. LaLiga wants to establish themselves along with the Premier League amongst the North American market, but not everyone is on-board with the idea.
Captains from all 20 sides made their thoughts known, with a feeling of surprise as players were unaware of the upcoming changes prior to the official announcements. It was always going to be interesting to see who would be the first to sacrifice a home fixture for this new initiative, and it is not a shock to see Girona ultimately be the one.
City Football Group
City Football Group, backed by massive financial influence, took over Manchester City in the summer of 2008. With a windfall of cash, City were completely transformed into the Premier League juggernaut we know today. But the Abu Dhabi group did not stop in England, and have added several more teams to the CFG portfolio.
New York City FC (USA) and Melbourne City FC (Australia) were added, along with a minority stake in Yokohama F. Marinos (Japan). Last year, CFG also invested in Club Atlético Torque (Uruguay) and Girona. For Girona, CFG owns a significant percentage, while the other large stake is held by Girona Football Group (led by Pep Guardiola’s brother Pere). Due to this relationship, Manchester City made a habit of loaning players to Girona.
Last season was the first ever in the top flight for Los Blanquivermell, and CFG definitely wants the club to become a global brand. In that sense, one can see why Girona are the club making the first move, re-locating a Catalan derby across the Atlantic Ocean. There have been talks of ownership looking to pay for travel in some ways for fans, but that may be more of a dream than a reality.
LaLiga wants to improve their worldwide footprint, while City Football Group aim to increase their influence in world football. Girona’s match in the USA was a perfect idea for them, but supporters are suffering in the end.