Champions League run pushes Man City to £19m profit

By David Owen

October 19 – A best-ever Champions League run has propelled Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City to a near doubling of annual profits. The club, which plays Barcelona tonight, spiritual home of new manager Pep Guardiola, has reported pre-tax profits of £19.6 million for the year to May 31, up from £10.2 million in 2014-15.

Turnover reached £391.8 million (£351.8 million), with top-line growth mainly explained by the Sky Blues’ progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League, where they lost 1-0 to Real Madrid, the eventual winners. This resulted in a near doubling, to £61.2 million, of UEFA broadcasting income. The run also contributed to a 21% advance, to £52.5 million, in matchday revenue, an increment also spurred by expanded capacity at the Etihad Stadium.

Operating profit was relatively flat at just £2.8 million (£2.36 million), but the club registered a £20.7 million gain on disposal of players’ registrations, up from £12.9 million in 2014-15.

In spite of the Champions League run, and of winning the Capital One Cup, the wage bill was held below £200 million – at £197.6 million, versus £193.8 million the previous year. A note in the accounts, however, states that additional transfer fees, signing-on fees and loyalty bonuses totalling £123.4 million, up from £112.9 million, might become payable under certain circumstances.

The club, ultimately owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has zero financial debt, in marked contrast to rivals from the red side of the city, Manchester United. However, creditors arising from player transfers jumped sharply, from £28.3 million to £76.3 million in the year under review. Debtors arising from player transfers, by contrast, dropped from more than £60 million to less than £40 million.

The arrival of players such as John Stones, Claudio Bravo and Nolito has also resulted in net expenditure of around £158 million since the reporting date, as Guardiola sought to mould the squad more to his liking.

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak’s description of 2015-16 on-field results as “uneven” makes clear the scale of the club’s continued ambitions. City, Mubarak feels, “has now reached a level of sporting and commercial maturity that allows one to feed the other”. The 2016-17 season represents “the beginning of a critical new phase”.

City’s bottom-line result still leaves it with less than half the pre-tax profit of United. With the first three clubs to report 2015-16 numbers producing a combined profit of more than £70 million, early signs are pointing towards another positive year for Premier League club finances.

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