The owners of Manchester City, the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), are continuing to revolutionise the club as it moves into profit, with off field investments boosting the local area and on field activities pointing to further success.
Since the 2008 takeover of the club, ADUG have faced criticism for their huge spending on first team players and were even pinned back by UEFA in an FFP ruling in 2014, only for the rules to be curtailed a year later.
Those criticisms often came from supporters of other clubs or those with a vested interest in maintaining a status quo which City and its owners have blasted out of the water. The club is now operating in profit for the first time since the takeover, the first team have won two league titles and two cups in four years and the future looks brighter than ever.
ADUG, led by the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates – Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, commonly known as Sheikh Mansour – have reportedly invested more than £1bn in the club over seven years.
With the investment largely managed by Chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak the men from the Middle East have completely reshaped City on and off the field, with numerous world class players in the first team squad, plus the recruitment of talented individuals at every level behind the scenes.
Working alongside Khaldoon as the CEO of City is former Barcelona man Ferran Soriano, who has overseen massive commercial progress in East Manchester. Critics have pointed to sponsorship and investment from United Arab Emirates based companies such as Etihad, who sponsor the club’s stadium and new state of the art training facilities at the City Football Academy, but in truth City’s commercial success goes far beyond ADUG linked backing.
In October 2015 City reported record annual revenue of £351.8m and a seventh successive year of growth, moving into profit following “the retention and recruitment of a variety of regional and global commercial partners”.
Commercial revenue has increased massively as the club have started to win trophies again and become regular Champions League participants. Their latest set of financial figures show commercial revenue up 4% on 2013-14 to £173m, and broadcast revenue up 2% to £135.4m.
The club’s stadium has been expanded to 55,000 capacity, with plans in place for another increase to take it beyond 60,000 in the seasons ahead. Costs from the early post takeover years have been reduced, as have season ticket prices in some areas of the stadium, though some fans have complained about significant hikes in other areas.
City fans have little to complain about when it comes to the conduct of the Club’s owners. They have turned the former third tier side into winners and appear to be planning for years and years of future success.
ADUG have also expanded their football influence by creating New York City Football Club, Melbourne City Football Club and Manchester City Women’s FC.
When City’s recent positive financial figures were released, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, commented: “The financial model and the strategic investment is proven to work. Manchester City is now a profitable, self-sustainable club competing at the highest level in world football. The seeds of this year’s profit were sown some years ago and many people have contributed to making it happen. They deserve to be thanked and recognised. We also know that this is not the end, but the continuation of a process that should take us to an even brighter future.”
In addition to the improving stadium and the incredible Etihad Campus facility, described as the best training complex in world football, ADUG are continuing to nurture City’s relationship with the local community.
They have policies in place to ensure that a good percentage of people employed by the club come from the local area, whilst in 2014 ADUG and Manchester city council announced a 10-year agreement with the two parties forming a partnership entitled ‘Manchester Life.’
The deal will see 6,000 new homes built in run down parts of Manchester thanks to a further £1bn investment by City’s Middle East owners. The first phase will involve the construction of more than 800 new homes in Ancoats and New Islington, close to the Etihad Stadium and the Academy.
Construction will create hundreds of jobs for local people and will regenerate former industrial wasteland into a pleasant residential area.