On Thursday, Major League Soccer announced that San Diego will be home to its 30th team during a news conference at Snapdragon Stadium. MLS commissioner Don Garber, chairman of the Mansour Group Mohamed Mansour, San Diego mayor Todd Gloria, Sycuan chairman Cody Martinez and Manny Machado were among those in attendance.
“We have worked so hard to make this happen. We scouted the globe for the right opportunity with soccer and San Diego ticked all the boxes,” said Mansour. “As to our partners, the Sycuan tribe, we immediately bonded. We knew we could work together. They share our values and commitment to investing in the future by supporting our youth.”
The ownership group is headed by the Mansour Group as well as the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation with founding partners Manny Machado, Brad Termini, Tom Vernon (Right to Dream founder), Tom Penn (CEO) and Dan Dickinson. This new venture is also the first of its kind, making history as the first Native American ownership group in global football.
The Mansour Group, led by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Mansour, isn’t new to the world of soccer. In 2021, Man Capital, Mansour’s private investment subsidiary invested $120 million in the acquisition of Right to Dream and led to the creation of ManSports.The multinational conglomerate owns a majority stake in the Danish soccer team, FC Nordsjaelland, as well as the organization Right to Dream whose goal is to develop soccer academies, teams, and communities internationally.
Previously the group has established soccer academies throughout Egypt, Denmark, and the United States. The organization is expected to expand these youth development efforts here in San Diego alongside the development of the new MLS team.
The new San Diego team will be the fourth in California behind the Los Angeles Galaxy (1994), the San Jose Earthquakes (1994), and the Los Angeles FC (2014). Previously, commissioner Garber indicated that Las Vegas, Detroit, Phoenix, Sacramento and Tampa were other top locations in consideration for the MLS expansion. The new club is not expected to have any ties to the MLS Division II San Diego Loyal soccer club which debuted in 2020.
Last week, the Loyal’s chairman and owner Andrew Vassiliadis put out a statement saying:
“We want to take a moment to express our deepest gratitude for your unwavering support over the past four years. You have made our dream of bringing professional soccer to San Diego a reality. We have become aware of an independent ownership group that intends to launch their own club in San Diego. Our unwavering commitment is to the vision of growing soccer in this city, and we want to make that abundantly clear. Our plan is simple. We aren’t going anywhere.”
It’s been reported that the deal was priced at around $500 million, a new record for the franchise whose highest fee paid was by Charlotte FC in 2019 at $325 million.
“To soccer fans here in the community I want to thank you guys. You don’t know us that well yet, but you’re going to get to know the excitement, the passion of what Major League Soccer is,” said Garber. “We’re going to bring a brand of soccer and futbol to this community in ways that is going to make you all proud.”
We’ll continue to update this story as more information becomes available.