Manchester City's Owner Is Close to Buying Another Soccer Team

  • Manchester City owner may announce Torque purchase this week
  • Team would be smallest member of City Football Group’s stable

The billionaire owner of English Premier League’s Manchester City soccer team is close to adding a little-known Uruguayan team to his portfolio of clubs, according to a person familiar with the matter.

City Football Group, owned by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, may announce its purchase of second-division Club Atletico Torque as soon as the end of this week, according to the person, who asked not to be identified.

Montevideo-based Torque would be the smallest member of the stable of clubs controlled by Manchester City’s parent company. The group also owns Major League Soccer’s New York City and Australia’s Melbourne City clubs and has a stake in Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos.

A City Football Group spokeswoman declined to comment. Javier Noblega, an official at Torque, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Torque, which plays in an arena a fraction the size of Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, isn’t a major force in Uruguay, a country that has been under the microscope by officials at soccer’s governing body FIFA. Teams have been fined for acting as so-called “bridges” for larger clubs in neighboring Brazil and Argentina to trade players through at a lower tax rate. Torque hasn’t been named in any of the investigations.

Some teams in the country had also been used by investors in the now-banned practice of third-party investment, which saw clubs sell stakes of players’ trading rights. FIFA banned the practice in 2015, allowing deals signed before the prohibition to remain in place until they could be unwound.

Manchester City last year signed Argentine goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli from Deportivo Maldonado, another club in Uruguay’s second division. Rulli, who was immediately sold by Manchester City to Spain’s Real Sociedad, didn’t play a single game for Maldonado, which is owned by a group of British businessmen.