Brazil club Bahia next in CFG shopping list


City Football Group wants to by Brazilian club Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

Sports company the City Football Group (CFG) have made an offer of $190 million (R$1 billion) for Esporte Clube Bahia in Brazil.

‘Hudson River Blue’ stated that according to a statement issued by Bahia, the Board announced a proposal for CFG to acquire 90 percent of the Sociedade Anônima do Futebol (SAF), the group that controls the club and their assets. The $190 million includes investment in players for the men’s and women’s teams, improvements to facilities and infrastructure and the assumption of $57 million in debt.

Manchester (UK)-based the City Football Group Limited is a holding company that administers association football clubs. The group is owned by three organizations, of which 78 percent is majority-owned by the Newton Investment and Development LLC, 14 percent by the American firm Silver Lake and eight percent by Chinese firms China Media Capital and CITIC Capital.

Esporte Clube Bahia, known familiarly as Bahia, is a Brazilian professional football club based in Salvador, capital City of the Brazilian State of Bahia. They play in the Campeonato Baiano, Bahia’s State league, and the Campeonato Brasileiro Série B, Brazil’s second tier league.

The Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, also known as the Complexo Esportivo Cultural Professor Octávio Mangabeira, is a football-specific stadium located in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, and has a maximum capacity to hold 48,000 people. The stadium was built in place of the older Estádio Fonte Nova. It serves as the home facility of Bahia.

What CFG won’t need to buy: A stadium. That much is crystal-clear – Bahia play in the Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, a 48,000-seat arena built for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™.

Bahia currently plays in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série B, Brazil’s second division. Bahia spent most of their history in Série A, and won the national title in 1959 and 1988, but in the last 15 years, they have gone up and down between the top two tiers. Bahia was relegated at the end of the 2021 season, after finishing in 18th place in the 20-team league.

‘Hudson River Blue’ further stated that if the proposal is accepted by the SAF, the Bahia deal will follow close on the heels of CFG’s purchase in July of Palermo F.C. in Italy, another legacy club with strained finances playing in a lower division. Shortly after the purchase, Palermo earned promotion to Italy’s Serie B.

In fact, this has become a pattern for CFG, which purchase underperforming clubs and then invest in their success. For example, when City Group bought Ligue 1 club ES Troyes AC (France) in 2020, the club was playing in France’s Ligue 2. It was promoted to Ligue 1 the following year. The CFG bought LaLiga club Girona FC (Spain) in 2017, just after it had earned promotion to LaLiga, but it was relegated at the end of the 2019 season. Girona now plays in LaLiga once again after earning promotion last season.

CFG has been on something of a shopping spree lately. CFG was linked to the Brazilian side Clube Atlético Mineiro in March of this year. The City Football Group made an offer of almost $200 million to buy 51 percent of the winner of last year’s Série A. A few weeks later, the CFG was reported to make an offer to buy Dutch side NAC Breda for just $8 million, but protests by the club’s famously devoted fans seemingly scuttled the deal.

While the acquisition of Bahia isn’t a fait accompli, it could be formally announced soon.

If approved, Bahia will become the 13th club in the CFG family, joining the Manchester City F.C. (UK) in the English Premier League and New York City FC in Major League Soccer (MLS), as well as Australia’s Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos, Uruguay’s Montevideo City Torque, Spain’s Girona FC (which plays in the first division), China’s Sichuan Jiuniu F.C. (which plays in the second division), India’s Mumbai City FC, Belgium’s Lommel SK (which plays in the second division), France’s ES Troyes AC (which plays in the first division), Bolivia’s Club Bolívar (a “partner club” that plays in the first division), and Italy’s Palermo FC (which plays in the second division).

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