City Football Group executive Brian Marwood badly misdiagnosed New York City FC fan frustrations in a new interview with the BBC.
Marwood, CFG’s global football managing director, spoke with the BBC’s Simon Stone at length about the realities of CFG’s multi-club model, as well as the group’s global approach to scouting and player development.
The article is well worth a full read, but Marwood’s comments about Taty Castellanos leaving NYCFC for fellow CFG club Girona FC really jump out, and should raise eyebrows in New York City.
When addressing the transaction – namely NYCFC’s best player leaving midseason to join another CFG club on loan – Marwood said:
“We call it creative tension…It is a good thing as long as it is managed properly. I get the frustration of New York. You don’t want to let your top goalscorer go, but they also realise they are part of a bigger organisation. We have to accept that is the life and that is what it means being part of the group. We can’t kill that opportunity.”
Marwood feels the need to remind NYCFC followers that the club exists as a cog within the CFG machine, but that’s been an undeniable reality since NYCFC was founded. Players regularly moved between NYCFC and other CFG clubs as far back as 2015 (can’t forget the Lampard-Man City farce), so seeing Taty leave NYCFC but not leave the “CFG family” is the least surprising element in all of this.
Unsurprising too was Taty’s desire to leave: He was a dominant force in MLS who fully earned a chance to make it in Europe.
This kind of thing happens with plenty of other young players at plenty of other MLS clubs, with MLS still seen as a stepping stone and “selling league” for aspirational young players like Taty. For NYCFC fans, the frustration is less about Taty leaving and more about what happened to the team since he left, as well as the unpredictable sliding scale of club prioritization within CFG.
Despite Taty’s transfer easily qualifying as a saga, a long and drawn-out move that began to gather steam almost immediately after NYCFC won MLS Cup in 2021 and continued through the following summer, no clear replacement was brought into the club. Even now, as we approach the one-year anniversary of his move to Spain, there remains a striker-sized hole in the NYCFC lineup.
Beyond Taty, the rest of NYCFC’s roster has undergone a massive tear-down. While some reinforcements were brought in to offset the costly departures, the roster still feels incomplete.
It’s tone-deaf of Marwood to trot out talk that New York City need to accept their place in the bigger CFG system when NYCFC’s place within that CFG pyramid has gotten harder and harder to parse. Clubs such as Girona in Spain and Esporte Clube Bahia in Brazil currently appear to be bigger priorities for investment and as destinations for CFG’s available talent.
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The multi-club CFG setup has always been something of a double-edged sword for NYCFC. It has given the club access to CFG’s scouting network, and it has allowed New York City to take advantage of a system that swaps players between clubs. Not only is Castellanos playing for Girona, Nicolás Acevedo is on a similarly inter-CFG-loan to Bahia, while NYCFC signed Santi Rodríguez from Montevideo City Torque this season.
Even if NYCFC are now lower down on the CFG priority list, there are glaring roster holes being left unaddressed by sporting director David Lee. New York City have two open U22 initiative slots, and recently acquired a sizable amount of allocation money in trades for players such Héber and Malte Amundsen. Yet the reinvestment has yet to materialize.
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Yes, there’s the huge promised off-field investment of $780 million in the form of the “Cathedral of Soccer” that NYCFC will build in Willets Point, Queens. But in the near-term the team is suffering through the MLS season, still looking unfinished after the mass roster exodus.
Hence why these comments from a prominent CFG football executive feel so far out of sync with the reality of NYCFC’s current situation. To so offhandedly dismiss NYCFC dissatisfaction over Taty’s loan is to miss the much bigger picture of what’s currently “the frustration of New York.”