City Football Group have made an offer of $190 million (R$1 billion) for Esporte Clube Bahia in Brazil, according to Salvador newspaper Jornal A Tarde.
According to a statement issued by Bahia, the board announced a proposal for CFG to acquire 90% of the Sociedade Anônima do Futebol, the group that controls the club and their assets. Journal A Trade reports that 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.
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 played 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.
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 FC 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 ES Troyes AC in 2020, the club was playing in France’s Ligue 2; it was promoted to Ligue 1 the following year. CFG bought Girona FC in 2017, just after it had earned promotion to La Liga, but it was relegated at the end of the 2019 season. Girona now plays in La Liga once again after earning promotion last season.
CFG has been on something of a shopping spree lately. CFG was linked to Brazilian side Atlético Mineiro in March of this year, when the news outlet ge reported that City Football Group made an offer of almost $200 million to buy 51% of the winner of last year’s Série A. A few weeks later, 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 Manchester City in the English Premier League and New York City FC in MLS, as well as Australia’s Melbourne City, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos, Uruguay’s Montevideo City Torque, Spain’s Girona FC (which plays in the first division), China’s Sichuan Jiuniu FC (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 Bolivar (a “partner club” that plays in the first division), and Italy’s Palermo FC (which plays in the second division).
News of the deal was first reported on Twitter by Brazilian journalist César Luis Merlo on September 20.