Man City spending spree should be applauded


  • Share via facebook
  • Tweet this
  • Bookmark and Share

There was surreal moment shortly after Manchester City had won the Premier League last Sunday. The cameras panned to the rock star Liam Gallagher, high up in the corporate boxes. A lifelong City fan, and seen by many as “the coolest man on the planet”, the crowd went wild with delight as his grinning face appeared on the gigantic video screens.

But it was only the second loudest cheer of the day. That came a few minutes later when the cameras focused on a banner that read: “Thank you, Sheikh Mansour.”

Who would thought it? Not me, certainly not in September 2008 when Arabian Business first broke the story of Abu Dhabi United Group’s takeover of the club, funded by HH Sheikh Mansour. A good deal, I thought. Should get some good publicity for Abu Dhabi, and maybe one day this struggling club will start to do well. Less than four years on, Sheikh Mansour has been elevated to hero status. I was at the match on Sunday, and was struck by the genuine and overwhelming warmth being shown towards the Abu Dhabi executives and sponsors who have bankrolled the club.

But the big question of course is, has it been worth the near billion dollars spent on the club? The club’s many rivals would give an instant no. They have continued to argue since September 2008 that Manchester City is buying success, nothing more, nothing less.

Well, let’s look at the figures. Since ADUG bought the club from Thaksin Shinawatra, the total amount spent on players is estimated at $697m. Around $142m has come back from player sales.

Roman Abramovich spent $562m on new players during his first four years in charge of Chelsea, when he took over in 2003. And he only recouped $78m from player sales. I don’t remember anyone claiming the Russian had bought success back then (the club won two consecutive titles in 2005 and 2006) — and don’t forget, the value of players was considerably less in 2003 than today. Liverpool spent $181m on new players in the last year alone. But the team has flopped.  Yet no one is accusing the club of buying failure.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been the biggest critic of City’s spending, though he chooses not to remember that his own club smashed the British transfer record three times in seven years, to sign Andy Cole, Juan Sebastian Veron and Rio Ferdinand between 1995 and 2002. And they did rather well on the pitch as a result.

What Sheikh Mansour has done, in terms of player spending, is neither unusual nor over the top. He’s done what everyone else once did, but just done it better.

Much has also been said about the ten year stadium naming deal by Etihad Airways, which depending on who you believe, was worth anything from $200m to $400m. Whatever the real figure, the far more important point is that much of that cash is being used to develop East Manchester, one of the most deprived areas of the UK. A report from the Save the Children charity last year claimed that levels of child poverty in the city had reached 27 percent, amongst the highest in the country.

Around 200 acres of land is now being turned into the Etihad Campus. There will be seventeen pitches, a 7,000 capacity stadium and the ability to host 400 youth team players. Nearly 200 much needed jobs have been created in the process. Despair has turned into decent prospects. Add to that the club’s international CSR strategy from LA to Sierra Leone, and there is much to be proud of.

I was on the same flight back from Manchester as Etihad boss James Hogan. Speaking to him and other executives involved with the club, one thing is clear: This isn’t just about buying or sponsoring a football team which you hope will do well. This is about helping rebuild a city. And so far, they are making a pretty good job of it.

Anil Bhoyrul is the Editorial Director of Arabian Business.

Related:
Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Ray J

I never quite understand this argument that Manchester Utd buying the Premiership (over, and over, and over...) was ok because they made their money from winning. How is a team winning by buying the best players, then spending the money on the best players and winning again, then spending the money on the best players and winning again... etc... good for the sport? Either buying the premiership is cheating, unsporting, etc, or it's not. Why does it matter where the money came from?

Posted by: Loch Ness

Mr. Anil Bhoyrul does not seem to have read the press around the time Abramovich bought Chelsea.

Adding 200 jobs does not contribute in any massive to the regeneration of Manchester. Few years ago, there was a plan to open up a mega-casino in Manchester - wonder what happened to that.

As for United, they broke the transfer record thrice in 7 years - City broke it all in what...a year?

This article has really no intrinsic value. It says what we all suspect anyway - that money CAN buy success.

Posted by: Paul

Dear Anil Bhoyrul
Please read all your comments again because i think you made a mistake, that or you either don't know anything about the EPL and are the PR agency for Abu Dhabi or you have your head buried in the sand....
"Liverpool spent $181m on new players in the last year alone. But the team has flopped. Yet no one is accusing the club of buying failure."
Roman Abramovich spent $562m on new players during his first four years in charge of Chelsea, when he took over in 2003. And he only recouped $78m from player sales. I don?t remember anyone claiming the Russian had bought success back then????
Were have you been?

Praise to HH Sheikh Mansour for his investment which has brought a Phoenix from the flames.... His money rolling into football has helped other clubs cash in on players they have groomed... I look forward to the battle next year(from a red devil) but please never write that: Liam Gallagher is ?the coolest man on the planet?. His brother is far cooler.

Posted by: Omar Abu Omar

Manchester United did not need a rich backer to fund their massive transfers, they were already big enough to pull such things off.

Moving on:
"Liverpool spent $181m on new players in the last year alone. But the team has flopped. Yet no one is accusing the club of buying failure."
Have you been reading ANY articles or opinions on English football in the past couple of months? Everyone has been branding the season as an utter failure with many of the players signed by Kenny Dalglish being labelled as flops who underperformed heavily. Dalglish has been sacked and 3 senior executives have already been sacked at the club. The club endured one of its worst seasons in history and has been criticized for the way its been handling things on and off the pitch. The likes of Jordan Henderson and Steve Downing were definitely massive underachievers who have been receiving a lot of flack from the club's own fans and the media and they cost a combined fee of over 45 million pounds.

Posted by: Omar Abu Omar

"I don?t remember anyone claiming the Russian had bought success back then (the club won two consecutive titles in 2005 and 2006)"
It was blatant he bought his way to get the title. Blackburn Rovers did the exact same thing back in 1995 (And are sadly relegated to the Championship now after a dismal campaign but that is an entirely different story). Chelsea were the laughing stock of English football in the early 2000's as they used to embarrassingly lose to supposedly very inferior opposition in the then known UEFA Cup (Now rebranded as the Europa League). They had no means to compete at the top without Roman's millions

Your mention of Alex Ferguson breaking the English transfer record several times is misleading. The club was still not owned by the Glazers back then and it was already one of the biggest names in global football (If not THE biggest and richest club). They had the means to do it organically due to their ongoing success and domination of domestic football. Continued

Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Creating an empire: Inside the world of a wellness visionary

Creating an empire: Inside the world of a wellness visionary

Arabian Business travels to Italy to learn how Technogym's Nerio...

Dhow racing in Dubai

Dhow racing in Dubai

The race to Al Gaffal will see hundreds of dhows race in Dubai...

Brand slam

Brand slam

Gulf blue chips are now closely associated with most of the world...

Most Discussed