Manchester City's £930m spending spree to turn club into Premier League title contenders
MANCHESTER City have spent £930.4 million turning themselves into Premier League title contenders, a special Daily Telegraph Sport survey of English football’s finances has revealed.
The figure, which is based on the club’s three most recent annual accounts, lays bare the true cash cost of taking the previously mid-ranking club to the brink of their first league triumph in 44 years.
It also exposes the scale of the task facing them as they seek to comply with Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regulations, which took effect at the start of this season.
The full extent of City's outlay is one of the key findings of the Telegraph’s unique survey of the financial health of the Premier League, based on clubs’ most recent accounts.
For the first time in a survey of this kind, the Telegraph can reveal exactly how much cash each club earned – and, crucially, spent – during a season.
The study has uncovered that in the 2010-11 season:
Top-flight clubs spent £2.51bn in cash, which was £285.8m more than they earned.
The Premier League generated £2.23bn of income, which equates to 0.148pc of the entire output of the UK economy.
Clubs spent almost £400 million on signings after player sales.
Wages for players and staff cost clubs £1.52bn.
Premier League clubs’ net debt was £1.39bn, costing them £97.2m in debt-interest payments.
City’s spending loomed large in the results for the league as a whole.
Between 2008, when Abu-Dhabi-based oil magnate Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan bought them, and the end of last season, the club’s total cash outlay was £930.4m, of which only £365.3m was generated from their own operations.
The remainder – £565.1m – had to be supplied by Mansour, the club’s billionaire benefactor.
That figure will have risen significantly over the course of the current season, although the exact final cost of winning the league will only be known when the next accounts are published in 2013.
Last summer, the club spent a further £53.6m net on new arrivals, which will be reflected in those accounts, although they also secured a sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways which was reported to be worth £400m.
When the gap between their income and expenditure peaked in the 2009-10 season, City were spending £3.04 for every £1 they earned, figures that show the battle they face to meet the “break-even requirement” of Uefa’s new rules.
Telegraph Sport's survey uses the accounts of 19 of the 20 clubs who were in the Premier League last season.
Birmingham have been omitted because they have not met their statutory requirement to file accounts, which has led to the Football League issuing them with a transfer embargo.
This analysis gives supporters a clear picture of the health of their club’s finances and exposes to what extent they rely on the support of benefactors such as Mansour or Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich.
It may make alarming reading for fans of Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Everton and West Ham United, whose clubs have spent significantly more than they have earned.
Over the years Villa’s owner, Randy Lerner, and Bolton’s Eddie Davies, have shown a willingness to cover these costs, but would leave their clubs with major problems should they chose to stop doing so.
Blackburn and Everton, by contrast, have no such benefactor support to rely on, meaning they must sell players to close the gap between spending and income.
As Blackburn’s relegation has shown this season, those sales can have a severe, negative effect on results on the pitch.
The analysis also highlights some fascinating trends which challenge conventional ideas – not least that spending large sums on signing players can actually have a negative impact on final league position.
Previous studies have shown that a club’s league position tends to reflect their spending on wages. Telegraph Sport’s study suggests this to be accurate, so clubs which pay their players the most tend to finish highest in the league.
But, analysing the period between 2009 and 2011, it also found that clubs who spent greater sums than direct rivals on transfers actually suffered in the league.
West Ham, for example, spent a net £20 million on transfers over the two-year period, which put them among the top 10 spenders.
But it was not enough to buy them Premier League security. In 2009-10 they finished 17th, six places lower than their wage bill ranked; the following year, they were relegated despite their signings and a wage bill which was 12th highest in the league.
Among the elite clubs last season, Chelsea and City both spent more money than Manchester United and paid higher salaries than United, but it was Sir Alex Ferguson’s team who won the league.
The study also shows how some teams manage to prosper despite being ‘selling clubs’.
Wigan Athletic (£574,000 profit), Blackburn (£2.2 million) and Arsenal (£15.9 million) all made more money in the transfer market than they spent in 2009-2010, and yet all three finished higher than teams with bigger wage bills.
Chelsea did the ‘double’ that season and yet made a profit of £18.2 million on transfers.
Last season, Newcastle United over-achieved more than anyone in this regard, making £5.4 million in the transfer market and yet finishing six places higher than their wage bill indicated they would.
The figures point to how the club have skilfully identified talent at bargain prices while attracting big fees for selling players whose departures have not prompted a slump in the team’s form.
Manchester City have been the dominant force in the transfer market since Mansour’s takeover, which came two months into the 2008-09 season (Telegraph Sport’s financial analysis includes the short period in that year’s accounts under previous ownership).
In the first three years under Mansour, they spent £266 million cash on players after sales.
Over the same period the cumulative outlay on wages was £390 million, meaning City were spending on salaries alone more than their income, of £365.3 million, although the club would point to the £61.6 million they spent on the regeneration of area of Manchester in which they are based.
Barring any slip up against Queens Park Rangers this weekend, Mansour will have a Premier League trophy to show for his investment, but it will have come at a 10-figure cost.
Who is your sportstar of the year?
Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.
Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.