Monday 25 September 2017 / 02:10 PM

Man City's Controlling Stake In The Heart

Last week it was announced that Manchester City had purchased a controlling stake in A-League side the Melbourne Heart.

It was the biggest news to hit the A-League since Alessandro Del Piero signed for Sydney FC, and has the potential to have a far greater long-term impact on the domestic game.

Though there may be a few initial issues that Heart supporters will want ironed out, the news is overwhelmingly good for them, and the league in general.

Primarily it offers a stable future to a club that was, until last week, not even able to feel 100% confident in its own lasting survival.

The Football Federation Australia gave the green light to the deal on Thursday, which sees a consortium led by Manchester City acquire an 80% share of Melbourne Heart in a deal believed to be worth $11 million.

The remaining 20% stake will be held by another consortium, which also owns the Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club.

The English club have, of course, seen a massive upturn in their own fortunes since being overtaken by the oil-rich Abu Dhabi Group in 2008.

In a few short years City went from also-rans to Premier League heavy hitters thanks to the millions of pounds that were poured into the club by their mega-rich owners.

Heart fans will be hoping for a similar rapid ascension.

The transformation of the Melbourne side could well be a little less spectacular than the one that City underwent, but the benefits over time should be just as important in the context of Australian football.

The first changes will be important, but superficial ones.

It is already a given that Heart will soon change its name to Melbourne City. There will be few tears shed over this alteration. Heart never seemed a particularly suitable name for a football club, even in a post-modern sporting world where new franchises are inevitably given weird and wonderful monikers.

A switch in club colours from red and white to sky blue, to match Manchester City’s kit, may cause more consternation, at least according to Michael Lynch of Fairfax.

 

A club’s colours are indeed a huge part of its identity and history, but it should also be acknowledged that the Heart have only been in existence since 2010, and have not enjoyed a great deal of success on the pitch in that short amount of time.

If there ever was a right time to re-brand, it would be now. A compromise could be for Melbourne City to use a strip similar to Manchester City’s black-and-grey away kit, so as not to appear too similar to Sydney FC’s Sky Blues.

Though there has been talk of big-name signings and a Man City-style splurge on personnel, the Heart’s transformation could be a tad more subtle.

There may be one high-profile Marquee player brought in to set chins wagging and become a symbol of the new regime, but the A-League’s salary cap rules won’t allow for a mass influx of top talent.

Rather the squad should be gradually strengthened in each transfer window until it has the depth and quality to compete every season for a spot at the top of the table.

Cash invested in training facilities, player development programs and access to City’s massive scouting network should reap considerable rewards down the line for the Melbourne side.

Other A-League clubs could soon find themselves forced to step up their own games in those areas in order to keep up.

Melbourne Heart are now guaranteed of a stable future and, in all likelihood, a bright and successful one.

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