New York City FC’s Frank Lampard will extend his loan with Manchester City until the end of their season in May, it was announced late last week. This will likely delay his arrival in New York until at least July, well after the MLS season commences in March.
Lampard has been as key as anybody to Manchester City’s success this season, as they are tied at the top of the English Premier League with Chelsea. Each team has 46 points, with 14 wins, 4 draws (ties), and 2 losses.
Lampard has five goals an an assist in 15 Premier League games. He has another goal in UEFA Champions League competition.
Lampard, a central midfielder, is Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer. He left Chelsea this past offseason for New York City FC, which is jointly owned by Manchester City and the New York Yankees. In late July, it was revealed that NYC FC would loan Lampard to Manchester City so he would be in shape for the MLS season in March.
Manchester City essentially conducted the loan themselves, as Lampard was never put out on the market by NYC FC as any other MLS player would and like a free agent would be in baseball. If he were, there might have been interest from some other English Premier League teams like Manchester United and Arsenal, whose coach Arsene Wenger thought there was something fishy about how the loan was conducted.
Lampard made his impact felt early when he had a big game-tying goal on Sunday, September 21st against Chelsea that gave ManCity a 1-1 draw in a game which they were short-handed for the final 20 minutes. Though the game was at ManCity, there was a nice contingent of Chelsea fans that applauded Lampard when he entered the game and Lampard, out of respect for his former team, did not celebrate his goal. Chelsea fans also have him a nice ovation after the game.
It is now obvious that Lampard was signed by NYC FC for two reasons: 1) for publicity, to get people excited for the team’s debut at Yankee Stadium in March 2015, and 2) as a backhanded way to bring him to Manchester City because Lampard might not have directly left Chelsea for ManCity, a bitter English rival.
Manchester City is treating NYC FC as the equivalent of a Triple-A team in baseball, where as long as you have players under contract for one of the teams, you can freely move them from one to the other.
This might start a ripple effect in which the MLS could turn into a minor league in England. There are a lot of American owners of English teams who could copy Manchester City’s model. Liverpool FC is owned by John Henry and Tom Werner, who also own the Boston Red Sox – what would stop them from buying the New England Revolution? Arsenal is owned by Stan Kroenke, who owns the Colorado Avalanche in the NHL, the Denver Nuggets in the NBA, and the Colorado Rapids of the MLS. Perhaps Kroenke feels cheated that he has owned an English team and an MLS team, and never thought of the ruse that Manchester City pulled with Lampard. Manchester United is owned by the Glazer family that owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is a publicly-traded stock on the NYSE. There is no reason they couldn’t buy an MLS team like DC United, which would be a natural.