Is it true? Over the last few weeks, there have been rumors suggesting that the owners of Manchester City are interested in buying Palermo.
On April 15th, there was an initial report merely suggesting that City Football Group (the holding company that owns Manchester City as well as other clubs) and, by default, its owner Sheikh Mansour was interested in the Sicilian club. The interest was confirmed by noted transfer guru and Italian calcio expert Gianluca Di Marzio but it was nothing more concrete than that. Meanwhile, Ultra Palermo’s very own contributor and main correspondent at the Giornale di Sicilia, also confirmed the rumor and noted that City Football Group had sent some emissaries to look into the club “a while back”.
Over the last few days, things have moved beyond just a passing interest and into an active interest. Gianluca Di Marzio broke the news on April 29th saying that City Football Group are now in the “due diligence” phase of of purchasing the club and a sale could occur very quickly – but the most likely reality is that this sale will take some time. In fact, one day prior to the news breaking, Palermo had a shareholders’ meeting in which the possibility of the club being sold was discussed.
Current Palermo owner Dario Mirri is said to be interested in staying with the club even after it is sold – perhaps even as club president. That suggestion has not met any opposition from the potential new owners of City Football Group who have been looking into investments in Italian football. As for the amount the club will be sold for, that part is unclear as of right now but it probably would be within the range of 5 to 12 million. It makes sense to assume that any eventual sale amount will depend on whether Palermo is in Serie B or remain in Serie C after the playoffs are concluded. This is another reason why a sale probably won’t be finalized until June when the playoffs are over.
So, what would a sale to one of the richest holding companies in the sport look like? Well, for starters, City Football Group already owns 10 other clubs. Obviously, the crown jewel and most famous of these is Manchester City, the perennial powerhouse in the English Premier League with some of the biggest stars in the game on its roster. The second most famous club and the second investment the holding group made was when it purchased New York City in the MLS back in 2013 as part of a collaboration with the most famous franchise in Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees. The group also owns three other European clubs: Girona FC in playing in the Segunda Division in Spain, Troyes in Ligue 1 in France, and Lommel SK in the Belgian First Division B in, well, Belgium. Beyond Europe, there’s Melbourne City FC in the A-League in Australia, Yokohama Marinos in Japan’s top league, Mumbai City in India’s top league, Montevideo City Torque in the Uruguayan top flight and Sichuan Jiuniu FC in China League One (although City Football Group doesn’t own the majority shares). Of the European clubs that City Football Group owns outside of England, they all are either newly promoted in their country’s top flight or play in the second division. A purchase of Palermo would instantly boost not just the amount of cash the club would have on hand, it would also bring the fans back to the stadium in droves just on enthusiasm alone.
For years, the recently deceased former owner Maurizio Zamparini talked about wooing Arab sheikhs to invest in Palermo and buy the club from him. Now it seems like his dream may become a reality, albeit under Dario Mirri.