Spanish La Liga president Javier Tebas ought to do some research before he launches his annual broadsides on state owned clubs like Manchester City for, supposedly, inflating player transfer fees because of their bottomless cash reserves. Abu Dhabi Group owned Premier League leaders Manchester City are showing domestic and European rivals exactly how to run a successful club on and off the pitch. Soon to be crowned EPL champions for the fifth time in six years, City’s financial metrics over the same period of time indicate an ascent to the apex of the continent’s financial ladder that’s as steep as their rise into a trophy pulling behemoth.
Tebas is a later day apostle of former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger who was an acerbic critic of City’s ownership model when they first arrived on English shores, frequently labelling their transfer market business as ‘financial doping’. Wenger would be shocked if he examined current Etihad Stadium metrics and compared them to those of his beloved Arsenal. Pep Guardiola’s treble chasing Sky Blues have been earning an average of €200m more than the Gunners during their six year hiatus from Champions League football. A €1.2bn advantage in income is reflected in on pitch results.
Take a closer look at the figures. Financial consulting firm Deloitte lists Manchester City as the highest earning club in Europe in both 2021 and 2022. Arsenal are tenth. In 2021, City earned €644.9m, compared to €366.5m for Arsenal. In 2022, the Sky Blues pocketed €731m as opposed to €433.5m for the Gunners. Quick summation shows the Etihad Stadium giants have banked €1.376bn over 24 months compared to €800m for their London rivals. A €576m income cushion is hard to bridge on the pitch.
A further examination of the figures reveals that City’s net expenditure on transfers (income minus expenditure) during the last five years is – £225m compared to – 149m for the north Londoners. The soon to be crowned champions are more comfortable financially while winning an astronomical number of trophies even after offsetting a £225m hit on transfers thanks to their huge £1.2bn cash advantage over the Gunners.
Even if you are to take into account Manchester City’s huge wage bill of £163m versus Arsenal’s of £85m, Guardiola’s side would still have much more wriggle room than Mikel Arteta’s outfit. The philosophy by Abu Dhabi Group appears to be – assemble the division’s best squad for the world’s best technical support staff, the financials will align themselves. To suggest, it’s working a treat is an understatement.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta bought into this model when he assumed the Camp Nou club hot seat. The man who turned around the Catalan club’s fortunes two decades ago has literally mortgaged it’s future in the firm belief sustained on pitch success will translate into financial metrics that are good enough to offset the club’s €1bn+ debt. Winning Liga Santander is the first step in the right direction. As Xavi Hernandez’s rebuilt Blaugrana continue to find on pitch success, their return to the apex of revenue collection will be automatic, hence Lionel Messi’s inevitable reunion this summer.