By Tony Attwood
Munchester City (also known as Man UOI) made a financial loss of £121m in the 12 months to 31 May 2010, the first full year of ownership by Sheikh Yermoney bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Their income was £125m and their wages bill was £133m, up from £83m.
Put another way Manchester UOI spent £8m more than their entire turnover on wages alone.
Of course Sheikh Yermoney’s wanted his investment to be the biggest and the best, but at over £500m he still only has the second biggest financial loss in the Premier League’s history. Exam Report: Must Try Harder.
The highest loss was the KGB in Fulham, who (rather carelessly I thought), lost £141m in 2004-05. Pesky creatures these Russians. Next thing you know they’ll be invading Afghanistan.
Anyway, back in Munchester, earnings increased by 45%, from £87m in 2008–09 to £125m. For the first time ever sine the nation donated the City of Manchester Stadium to the club, all season tickets were sold. I wonder if they would like to give us taxpayers who paid for the stadium, our money back now.
Sheikh Yermoney and his brother Sheikh Yerbooty says in an accompanying letter faxed from the 19th green of the Sheikh Itallabout desert golf course, that he wants to develop City into “one of the most successful clubs on and off the pitch, but to do so without losing any of the characteristics that make it so special”.
So glorious failure is still the order of the day.
Anyway, the report covers the period in which they signed David Silva, Yaya Touré, Jérôme Boateng, Aleksandar Kolarov, Mario Balotelli and James Milner, and then sold Robinho and Stephen Ireland. The cost was £96.6m and rather surprisingly a higher wage bill.
Now the writing off of those costs will take four years on the accounts, which is worth considering in what follows.
The plan at Munchester UOI is clearly to buy big, get themselves up the league table, get the media exposure, and then try and have a youth academy to reduce the transfer bill and wage bill, as they sell off the ageing stars.
The trouble is, as the KGB in Fulham (and a lot of other clubs) have found, it is very hard to make this work. Arsenal are the past masters, combining players that are brought to the club aged 9 and 11, with later imports such as Theo, Carlos, Cesc, Aarson etc.
Both methods work to beat the new rules on which says that clubs need to approach breaking even, starting from next season. Clubs are permitted to lose only €45m (£39m) to 2014 – an interesting figure when you consider that Munchester UOI will still be writing down the cost of the current squad.
But the chief executive, Garry Cook, in a lovely statement, said City are aiming to meet the requirements of Uefa’s financial model, but his statements are said with sodium chloride in the mouth.
So my question is, have Chelsea and Man C (to use their alternative names for once) a cat in hell’s chance of making it?
Chelsea recently lost to Newcastle by playing some up and comings: defenders, Patrick van Aanholt and Jeffrey Bruma, midfielder Gael Kakuta, striker Daniel Sturridge.
It’s a start, but it is still the fact that John Terry is the last player to have broken through the barbed wire and searchlights that surround Stamford Bridge and that was 200 years ago. (Well ten years at least).
Since then it has been patchy, and there’s no sign of players to match the quartet of youngsters who have been bought in, or the likes of Clichy, Wilshere, Diaby, Denilson, Song, Bendtner who all joined young and for nothing or a very modest sum.
Maybe Chelsea are just a year or two behind Arsenal in the youth development system which will allow them to get past the financial controls, but I am not sure. They, like us, use the loan system, but in many ways they seem to overuse. I’m told Scott Sinclair has been loaned to six other clubs since going to the KGB in 2005, and he doesn’t even need to spend time in Spain to get EU nationality.
Chelsea’s kiddies have done well getting to a couple of youth cup finals, but I wonder if the whole system has not been undermined by the changes in manager at the KGB. Wenger must have known about Wilshere and the rest for years and years – but if you suddenly come in to a side, you spend your time focussed on the first team. And with endless money on tap, you just buy what you need, rather than nurture a 15 year old who won’t play for the club until long after you have been given the chop.
My point therefore is, Chelsea are trying to find a way around the financial regulations through the youth approach, but it is proving harder than they imagined, and the drive for instant success on which the modern club was founded, plus the effect of money is stopping it nurturing players bought in very young (Bendtner, Theo, Cesc), and bringing through your own youth team to the top table (Lansbury, Wilshere etc).
And so back to Man City where I started. Will they avoid the Chelsea dilemma and actually play youngsters? It is hard to say. They are about four years behind Chelsea, and if Chelsea can’t get the books sorted and the team stable (and the age of the team must be a concern) then Man City won’t be able to for at least four more years.
So when Garry Cook says City are aiming to meet the requirements of Uefa’s financial model and be allowed in the Euro leagues, it is a bit like his pal across the city saying that Man U are a highly profitable club.
Up to a point Lord Copper.
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