The £1billion title
Manchester City’s first Championship title since 1968 will certainly live long in the memory. Afterwards, as he sipped champagne in the press room, the club’s Italian manager Roberto Mancini summed it up perfectly: “A crazy finish for a crazy season”.
Inevitably comparisons will be drawn with other nail-biting footballing climaxes. Liverpool v Arsenal in 1989 (the last time the league was won on goal difference), Manchester United against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final 10 years later and Liverpool’s miracle of Istanbul in 2005.
England cricketer Kevin Pietersen tweeted that it was why “there is NOTHING (his capitals not mine) better than sport. Fact”. And who could disagree? When it comes to delivering incredible drama, football and sport can conjure up heart-stopping, mind-boggling scripts.
How fortunate for the Premier League that their television and media rights are about to go out to tender.
Manchester City have been transformed since the arrival of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Photo: Getty
City’s win represents a significant watershed for the game – not only in Manchester, but for the rest of the Premier League and Europe things may never be the same again.
That’s because quite simply City have much, much more money than anyone else.
The club’s owner Sheikh Mansour and his investment vehicle Abu Dhabi United Group have sunk at least £1billion into City since 2008.
Compare that to their neighbours at Old Trafford who must contend with massive interest payments on loans taken out by their American owners, the Glazer family, to buy the club. According to some estimates, the Glazers have taken out £500m since their takeover in 2005.
United’s financial future now appears to rest on a flotation on the Singapore Stock Market which has been on hold for the last four months because of instability in global markets.
Mind you, United still came pretty close to winning the title again and Sir Alex Ferguson’s team were written off following Chelsea’s emergence as real contenders following Roman Abramovich’s takeover in 2003.
There is another major reason why City’s dominance may not be as straightforward as you might think.
European governing body Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regulations mean all clubs must restrict their losses between 2013 and 2015 to just £38m. To put the size of that task into context City lost a staggering, record-breaking £194.9m in 2011.
They had a wage bill of £174m at that time and have since added more expensive players. The average weekly wage is now said to be £85,000.
When those results were announced last autumn, City’s chief operating officer Graham Wallace said: “Our losses which, we predicted as part of our accelerated investment programme, will not be repeated on this scale in future”
But the gulf between those losses and the deficits allowed by Uefa in future is so, so vast. Even allowing for City’s £400m, 10-year stadium and kit deal with Etihad, serious surgery needs to take place if Mancini’s team are not going to run the risk of being thrown out of the Champions League in seasons to come.
So the challenge for Mansour and City is to build a dynasty at the same time as new rules are being introduced by Uefa designed to stop clubs like them from being too successful.