Much has been made of the growing relationship between Major League Soccer and LigaMX in recent years, but the New York Red Bulls could be getting a headstart in the months to come.
According to Fernando Cevallos of beIN Sports, the Austrian company is still looking to acquire Club Necaxa. “An MLS team is very close to having a younger brother in the Liga MX,” the commentator tweeted. “The Red Bull group advances in the negotiations to buy Necaxa.”
Cevallos followed up his initial tweet with another post a few days later, reiterating Red Bull’s “modus operandi” to wholly buy and rebrand instead of opting for mere sponsorship. MedioTiempo shed more light on the story, indicating that if the purchase of Necaxa falls through, there is the potential to purchase other clubs. The whole situation is set to come to a head in May when “the proposal will be put on the table of the owners in the Assembly.”
Based in the central city of Aguascalientes, Necaxa would be an interesting acquisition. Founded in 1923, the club has claimed the first division and continental championship three times, although the glory days are firmly in the distant past of the 1990s. Through multiple ownerships, relocation to the Estadio Victoria, and a recent five-year stretch in the second tier, the Rayos (Lightning – for now) endure, staying afloat in a league where stability is not always guaranteed.
Necaxa currently in last place in the Torneo Guardianes 2021, although at 13th overall and 12th in the coefficient table that determines relegation, a mechanism that has been temporarily suspended for five years and enticingly rumored to be on the permanent chopping block. Adding potential incentive to an acquisition is the club’s munificent transfer dealings. Mexico is the premier market for talent in North America, one in which the Rayos have participated, reaping tens of millions of dollars in fees over the past few years.
The purchase rumor first surfaced in September when commentator David Medrano of RÉCORD revealed that the “Red Bull Group is analyzing the possibility of being able to buy a team in Mexican soccer.” Several clubs were interested in sponsorship which did not interest the energy drink and sporting company. “The people in charge” began holding informal talks on purchasing a franchise in CONCACAF’s biggest league.
The story re-ignited last month when economics expert Alberto Aguilar shared his knowledge of negotiations with Necaxa, one of the country’s oldest clubs. However, ESPN rubbished rumors of a potential takeover, citing two sources. With the latest update to the saga, the denial appears to have been of the perfunctory kind, familiar to anyone who has ever requested comment on a sensitive subject of clandestine nature. To sustain smoke for this amount of time, there is an expectation of a roaring fire somewhere.
On the European side of the story, Red Bull is always on the lookout for another club, with the most recent takeover occurring in Brazil with Bragantino. The past decade has been populated by recent rumors of expansion into Russia, the Netherlands, and England, although none came to pass. Recently, RB Leipzig announced a three-year “strategic partnership” with Indian Super League outfit FC Goa, stressing that cooperation does not require “buying shares.”
The aggressive expansion of some of the world’s biggest names into various markets is the reality of modern football. As even the most distinguished of brands are considering takeovers for the purpose of brand growth, the stigma of colony clubs will soon pass into memory. Liga MX is becoming increasingly familiar with foreign investment. In 2017, Spanish giants Atlético Madrid put an “undisclosed” amount of money into Atlético San Luis, seeking to “expand internationally.”
While the merger between Liga MX and Major League Soccer is perennially on the table, Necaxa and New York are wholly different entities in nature. Any potential overlap would be minimal, as the amount of young Mexican and American talent can independently sustain two rosters. At best, New York might receive a player here and there, but there would likely be little crossover outside of the occasional training visit and completely organic social media interaction. But as seen just this offseason in the Red Bulls’ scouting and acquisition of Fábio Gomes Netto with the help of RB Bragantino, there are many different ways where family comes in handy in the complex landscape of global football.