Manchester City are to face a staggering £50m fine by European football governing body Uefa for failing to meet their Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
The rules were introduced in 2011 to help prevent oil-rich tycoons using football clubs as vanity projects. It hasn’t so far had much of an impact as clubs such as City and Paris St Germain have both repeatedly spent million’s more than they have had coming in. Manchester City’s record is especially staggering, Uefa’s FFP rules state that no club is allowed to lose more than £37m over the previous two seasons, City posted losses of £97m in 2012, but improved in 2013 to lose £51m.
The Manchester side, who have always lived in the shadow of worldwide super-brand United, will face a restriction on the number of players they can use for next season’s Champions League competition and will also have a capped wage-bill which will not go down well with the club’s Arab owner. Sheikh Mansour, who has two wives as well as two football clubs, is the deputy prime-minister of the UAE, and can often be spotted watching his millionaires run around the Etihad Stadium. He has historically had no problem in writing the cheques to bring in any of the kind of big names players who allow their heads to be turned by money rather than heritage. This approach may need a rethink moving forward, as City are going to need to reduce their expenditure significantly to avoid larger sanctions.
City may well win the Premier League this season for the second time in three years, but having spent £150 million in the last two years to do so, the prize money isn’t likely to help cover the costs of building a successful team. There is no doubt the club is not seen as a business that the Sheikh hopes to turn profit from, at least not directly. He does however insist that Abu Dhabi and Etihad airlines have prominence in terms of sponsorship of the side.
There are teams in the UK who consistently turnover large profits annually, Manchester United and Arsenal in particular, but it would appear that their business models are pretty far removed from that of Manchester City right now.