Manchester City set new financial records

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?

UEFA Champions League Preview: 11 places still up for grabs

ONLY FIVE teams have qualified so far for the last 16: Bayern, Bruges, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Napoli. So, there’s plenty to play for in matchday five and there could be a couple of high profile clubs finding their way to the Europa League.

Group A: Ajax – Liverpool; Napoli – Rangers.

Ajax, for all their European heritage, are almost out of the competition, although they will probably qualify for the Europa League. Liverpool, despite a stuttering start to the season in the Premier, thought they were finding their form when they beat Manchester City, but they had another setback and lost 1-0 against struggling Nottingham Forest. A draw for Liverpool in Amsterdam will send them through to the next stage. Napoli have already qualified, they are currently the most exciting team in Europe and their performances in Serie A and the Champions League have been impressive. Sadly, Rangers have looked out of their depth and their 7-1 humbling at home to Liverpool really summed up their experience this season.

Group B: Club Brugge – Porto; Atlético Madrid – Bayer Leverkusen

Bruges were one of the first teams to qualify for the knockout phase after winning three of their first four games. They are only the third Belgian team to reach the last 16 this century, Anderlecht (2000-01) and Gent (2015-16) were the others. Their opponents, Porto, need a win to keep some space between themselves and Atlético Madrid, but the second place in the group is likely to be decided by the meeting between these two teams on November 1 in Portugal. Leverkusen have been disappointing this season, both at home and in the Champions League, although they did beat Atlético in the last matchday.

Group C: Inter Milan – Viktoria Plzn; Barcelona – Bayern Munich

Barcelona went perilously close to elimination in the last group game against Inter, which ended 3-3. Inter know that a win against Plzn will put Barca out, regardless of how they face against group leaders Bayern. There has been much angst in Barcelona since the game with Inter, with concerns about their financial situation should they fail to qualify for the last 16. Barca have also lost ground in La Liga, despite the goals of Robert Lewandowski. Bayern, who have qualified, have been impressive in Europe, winning all four of their games and averaging three goals per game, while conceding just two goals.

Group D: Eintracht Frankfurt – Marseille; Tottenham – Sporting Lisbon

Anyone could still qualify from this group, but victories for Marseille and Tottenham could take both through. Frankfurt were unlucky to lose 3-2 at Tottenham, but they bounced back with a five-goal performance in the Bundesliga against Leverkusen. Marseille have been going well but were beaten by title rivals in France, Paris Saint-Germain. Spurs’ early season effervescence has lost a little of its fizz, with defeats against Arsenal and Manchester United, but they are still upbeat. They are particularly strong at home.

Group E: Red Bull Salzburg – Chelsea; Dinamo Zagreb – AC Milan.

This group remains quite open but the fifth matchday should start to sort things out. Chelsea, leaders of the group, are in good form under new boss Graham Potter, although their last two games have been disappointing with draws against Brentford and Manchester United. Salzburg, league leaders in Austria, faced second-placed Sturm Graz. They are still unbeaten in the Champions League group. AC Milan and Zagreb are still in the mix but a win for either will knock the loser out of contention. Milan are still chasing leaders Napoli at home and have lost just once in Serie A.

Group F: Celtic – Shakhtar Donetsk; RB Leipzig – Real Madrid.

Celtic are out of the competition, but still have feint hopes of finishing third and qualifying for the Europa League. Shakhtar, who should be too strong for them, would probably keep themselves in contention with a win in Glasgow. They recently beat big rivals Dynamo Kyiv in the Ukrainian Premier League, but everything is overshadowed by the war with Russia. RB Leipzig have turned their season around in recent weeks and have won five of their last six games. Their two wins against Celtic in the group have revitalised their Champions League campaign. Real Madrid will be a tough task as they are unbeaten in La Liga and recently beat Barcelona in El Clasico, followed by a 3-1 win against Sevilla.

Group G: Sevilla – FC Copenhagen; Borussia Dortmund – Manchester City

This round of matches will effectively be the group leadership decider and the Europa League qualifier. Dortmund host City with the top two places up for grabs. City were beaten for the first time this season when they went down 1-0 at Liverpool, but they returned to winning ways against Brighton. Liverpool prevented Erling Haaland from scoring, but the huge Norwegian will be keen to score against his old club. Dortmund, who came through two table-topping games with Bayern and Union with just one point to show for their efforts, know a win will secure their place in the last 16. Sevilla have picked up in the past few games and should be too good for a Copenhagen side who struggle to win games, although they did achieve a credible draw with City in their last Champions League fixture.

Group H: Benfica – Juventus; Paris Saint-Germain – Maccabi Haifa

Benfica have enjoyed their Champions League campaign so far and are within touching distance of the last 16. Juventus, by contrast, are almost out, although a win in Lisbon will delay the ignominy of an early exit. Juve were beaten 2-0 in their last group game in Haifa, but won the Turin derby afterwards and beat Emploi 4-0 at the weekend. Speculation is still rife about the future of coach Max Allegri. Benfica warmed up for this game with a big clash against Porto. PSG should win against Maccabi Haifa and followed up their 1-1 draw with Benfica with a 1-0 victory against old rivals Olympique Marseille. PSG may be distracted due to the continued talk of Kylian Mbappe moving in January and there are also rumours about Lionel Messi returning to Barcelona.