HomeFeatured ArticlesInevitable Rise: Manchester City's Unstoppable Financial Machine

Inevitable Rise: Manchester City’s Unstoppable Financial Machine

Manchester City’s Blinkered Approach To Financial Fair Play

A Game of Thrones: The Rise of Financial Giants

The last two decades have seen a seismic shift in the fiscal dynamics of football, starting with Abramovich’s stunning takeover of Chelsea in 2003. The world of football has never been the same since.

Today, the Premier League stands tall as the pinnacle of football spending, towering over Europe’s other top 5 leagues. Despite the devastating impact of the pandemic, the summer transfer window of 2023 witnessed a staggering €4.5bn being splurged across these leagues. This eye-watering figure marks a 52% surge compared to the preceding year, a clear testament to the resilient spirit of the beautiful game.

The WikiLeaks of Football: Unveiling Hidden Transfers

Football, however, isn’t all roses. Der Spiegel’s ‘Football Leaks’ in 2016 and 2018, akin to WikiLeaks in their revelatory nature, exposed the clandestine world of football transfers. Mark Goddard, the ex-general manager of the FIFA subsidiary transfer matching system, conceded that actual transfer fees might be twice as high as the reported FIFA figures. In response to the growing influence of agents and investment funds on football, UEFA implemented the ‘Financial Fair Play’ (FFP) rules in 2011, albeit with limited success.

Photo: IMAGO

Manchester City and the Decade of Lucrative Transfers

Manchester City, owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, has splashed out a whopping £1.5bn on transfers in the last decade, thanks to its seemingly limitless financial reservoir. According to Football Leaks, Manchester City used a rather intricate system over several years to inflate their revenues and conceal excessive spending:

  • A chunk of the sponsorship money from Abu Dhabi was internally recorded as “owner investment” amounting to £150m in 2012.
  • Emails from 2013 segregated payment obligations into “club direct payments” and “partner supplements,” with Etihad responsible for only £8m of the £67.5m sponsorship sum.
  • For the 2013-14 season alone, supplements from Abu Dhabi totalled £92.5m.
  • By 2016, the £8m sponsorship payment from Etihad was back in the picture.

While the pandemic brought many football clubs to their knees, Manchester City thrived, adding three new sponsors from the UAE and boosting its marketing revenues.

Allegations, Investigations and the Battle for Fair Play

According to Football Leaks, Infantino, now FIFA President, ensured that both Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain escaped harsh penalties for massive FFP violations. Despite UEFA investigators discovering deficits of €218m and €188m respectively for the 2011-13 seasons, both clubs avoided the dreaded Champions League ban. It’s alleged that Infantino held clandestine meetings with club leaders, sharing confidential information and proposing compromises outside of his authority.

Photo: IMAGO

As a result, Manchester City and PSG, backed by Abu Dhabi and Qatari owners respectively, were able to continue their spending sprees. They together spent over a billion euros on new players following their soft FFP settlements in 2014.

A New Era of Commercial Triumph Amidst Ongoing Investigations

Manchester City has now announced the highest commercial revenues in English football history, despite ongoing Premier League investigations into alleged financial irregularities. But with the discovery of anomalies in a recent partnership with betting firm 8xBet, it’s clear that not all is as it seems. The flashy promotional video featured a model posing as an 8xBet representative, while a LinkedIn profile claiming to belong to 8xBet’s CEO turned out to be a hoax.

Concerns have also been raised around the legitimacy of Dubai-based marketing firm QOO Global, which appears to work exclusively for 8xBet and whose employees have suspicious LinkedIn profiles. The firm’s address and contact details remain elusive, further fuelling these concerns.

Photo: IMAGO

The Unending Quest for Transparency and Fair Play

Last week, Manchester City revealed their commercial revenues for 2021-22 to be £309.5m, marking a 13% annual increase. While they outpaced their cross-city rivals Manchester United, who earned £258m in the same period, the legitimacy of these deals and sponsorships remains under investigation. Allegations of ‘disguised investment’, violations of rules on signing underage players, and fictitious consultancy contracts continue to cast shadows over City’s financial operations.

As the battle for transparency and fair play in football continues, clubs like Manchester City find themselves at the forefront. Despite the challenges, they continue to navigate the rough waters of the beautiful game, raising questions about the future of football finance.

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  1. A great many of uncorroborated statements and insinuations Nothing proved.

    You say “It’s alleged that Infantino held clandestine meetings with club leaders, sharing confidential information and proposing compromises outside of his authority.” If my memory serves me correctly the Meeting with Infantino arose as a result of UEFA acknowledgement that the fact that they changed the rules that the clubs were operating to half-way through the season was unfair to the clubs and thus a compromise “punishment” was agreed. You don’t seem willing to mention this or the fact that most of the allegations you make have already been raised in a court action against City and dismissed for lack of evidence or out of UEFA’s time frame for making such charges.
    Buy you carry on your mud slinging and hoping some of it sticks. If it doesn’t I look forward to reading your grovelling apology to Manchester City and its employees.


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