ALTHOUGH the sceptics will claim there’s plenty of smoke and mirrors at the Etihad campus, Manchester City generated record revenues and profits in the 2021-22 season. As well as lifting their sixth league title in 12 years, City’s turnover totalled £ 613 million, the second highest figure in Premier history and their pre-tax profit hit £ 41.7 million.
The 2021-22 campaign saw City win the title after a titanic struggle with modern rivals Liverpool but they also reached the last four of the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. Since 2010-11, City have won 14 major trophies, almost double the number secured by their nearest contenders, Chelsea, with eight in that timeframe. Liverpool and Manchester United have both won five and Arsenal four. Tottenham, the other “big six” club, have not lifted a single trophy since 2008.
City’s 7.6% increase in revenues was largely attributable to their massive rise in matchday earnings, from £ 0.7 million to £ 54.5 million. The average crowd at the Etihad was 52,774 which equates to a stadium utilisation rate of 99% at Premier League games. City’s ticket prices are actually lower than some of their Premier League opponents.
While TV income went down by 15% to £ 249.1 million, the club’s commercial activity was up by 14% to £ 309.5 million, a record for the Premier League. City said this was down to new sponsorship agreements as well as the return of music events to the stadium. Commercial income among the top six clubs ranges from just below £ 150 million to £ 300 million, but beyond that there is a huge gulf with the next club generating less than £ 50 million.
City’s brand value has been growing impressively in recent years and according to Brand Finance, they have the second most valuable brand in world football, bettered only by Real Madrid. The club claim fan engagement went up by 12% in 2021-22, including a 19% growth rate in the US and 17% in Japan.
According to the club’s annual report, City’s squad has a gross value of £ 1.1 billion, while Transfermarkt’s valuation comes in at € 1 billion. City’s squad has the oldest average age among the leading English clubs at 27.3 years and comprises almost 70% foreign players. In 2021-22, their wage bill was more or less unchanged at £ 353.9 million, representing 58% of income. Only four clubs in the Premier top the £ 300 million mark when it comes to salaries – Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool are the others.
As ever, City were big players in the transfer market, with purchases of £ 149 million against £ 86 million of player sales. By far the biggest signing was Jack Grealish (£ 100 million), while the club received £ 55.6 million from the sale of Ferran Torres to Barcelona. City’s profit on player trading amounted to £ 68 million, which was comparable to 2020-21. The club had an enormous number of players out on loan, most of whom originated from City’s academy. Over the last five years, City have made around £ 250 million from transfers.
Manchester City are pivotal in the growth of the City Football Group (CFG) multi-club structure which was founded in 2013. In the past five years, CFG’s teams have won the league in six countries (UK, US, Japan, India, Australia and Bolivia). The most recent acquisition for the group was Italy’s Palermo.
While City will remain a controversial club in some ways but there is little doubt that they have a long-term view that may well provide a blueprint for other clubs. In 2020, they won their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports after initially being found quilty of serious fair play breaches by UEFA’s controlling body.
Aside from the financial advantages they clearly have, and that is something not every club can aspire to, they have invested in infrastructure, women’s football, academies and global growth. Their ownership model remains a topic of hot debate and there are similar moral concerns about Abu Dhabi as both Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Despite their success, people still delight in criticising City and peddling conspiracy theories about their financial integrity. Do the claims have any substance or are they just examples of wishful thinking?