Commercial revenues, the key to Man City financial charges

By Manuel Sánchez Gómez

London, Feb 10 (EFE).- Last season, Manchester City received 373 million euros in commercial revenue, including sponsorships. Fifty-one percent of its turnover comes from this channel, which includes agreements with 52 companies around the world and has grown by 563% since the club was bought by the United Arab Emirates in 2008.

The Premier League has accused City of more than a hundred financial irregularities that could threaten its status as one of the top clubs in England and Europe.

City are behind only Paris Saint Germain (383 million, 58% of its revenue) and Bayern Munich (378 million, 58%) in terms of commercial revenue, according to Deloitte’s annual report.

To understand City’s financial explosion, we must hark back to the 2008/2009 season, the first after the purchase of the club by the UAE investment fund. That season, City had a commercial income of 21.1 million euros. Since then, those earnings have grown by 563%.

That same year, Real Madrid, prior to Florentino Perez’s second term, presented in its accounts a commercial income of 139 million. The growth figures of a team that has won five Champions League titles since then do not even come close to those of City that has received spectacular financial backing from companies such as Etihad Airways, which is a state-owned UAE firm. The airline began its sponsorship of City in May 2009 and, in addition to sponsoring the shirt, gave its name to the stadium.

According to Deloitte, Etihad put some 30 million euros on the table for that first deal, which was to run for three years. The new status of the team, which was expected to move from mid-table to fighting for the Champions League, also allowed Umbro to replace Le Coq Sportif as shirt supplier. The clothing brand shelled out 60 million over three years.

Three years later, Etihad renewed its commitment, tripling the stake: 10 years of sponsorship. The figures skyrocketed. City went to €138 million in commercial revenue in 2011/2012, the season they made their first Champions League campaign and became Premier League champions for the first time in 40 years. Since then, their revenues have continued to soar, even in 2020/2021, which was disastrous for most teams because of Covid. Their sponsorships even increased that season by more than 20 million euros

City currently has commercial agreements, either globally, regionally or locally, with 52 companies. Of these 52 companies, eight are closely linked to the UAE government. These are Etihad (airline), Experience Abu Dhabi (tourism), E& (telecommunications), Emirates Palace (hotels), Aldar (real estate investment), Masdar (renewable energy), First Abu Dhabi Bank (banking) and Healthpoint (hospitals).

In other words, a significant part of City’s sponsorship income comes from companies that belong to the same owners as the club itself.

The Premier is following Uefa’s line, which already accused City in 2020 of inflating its accounts through sponsorships. The charges led to a two-year ban from European competitions which was later overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas), instead imposing a fine of 10 million euros.

This time the Premier League has more than a decade of evidence and a four-year investigation behind it, plus City will not be able to appeal, as the Premier League does not recognize Cas.

If the allegations are proven, City’s rivals want the sanctions to be harsh, up to and including potential relegation. EFE


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