City en­ter­ing ‘ new phase’

> Guardi­ola fi­nally adds up the num­bers for club’s chair­man as they claim to be fourth most valu­able brand in foot­ball

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS - BY IAN HER­BERT

MANCHESTER CITY chair­man Khal­doon Al Mubarak has re­vealed that he views the cur­rent sea­son un­der the man­age­ment of Pep Guardi­ola as the start­ing point for “a new phase in the evo­lu­tion of Manchester City” as the club re­ports a sec­ond suc­ces­sive year of profit, putting the strug­gle against UEFA’s fi­nan­cial fair play rules in the past.

City have seemed like a club

Pep Guardi­ola (left) and Lionel Messi dur­ing the Barcelona days wait­ing for Guardi­ola’s ar­rival ever since his com­pa­tri­ots Fer­ran So­ri­ano and Txiki Be­giris­tain, chief ex­ec­u­tive and direc­tor of foot­ball, joined the club in 2012, and the £20.5m profit re­ported on Tues­day – a record for the club – cer­tainly pro­vides the plat­form.

Al Mubarak has not yet stip­u­lated what the “new phase” means, though City yearn to con­vert their in­vest­ment in play­ers into Cham­pi­ons League suc­cess which would make them a house­hold name the world over. They hope that Guardi­ola will bring that.

The ul­ti­mate test comes ear­lier than the club would have wanted – with Barcelona await­ing them at the Nou Camp tonight. But they have cer­tainly trav­elled a long way in a short time, fi­nan­cially.

City re­ported a stag­ger­ing £194.9m loss in Novem­ber 2011 as they un­der­took the ac­cel­er­ated in­vest­ment to put them­selves in the big league.

But the an­nual re­port for sea­son 2015-16 has re­vealed club-record rev­enues of £351.8 mil­lion - the eighth suc­ces­sive an­nual rise in com­mer­cial earn­ings. Turnover - £61.8m in 2005/6 - has risen by £290m in a decade.

The club’s ra­tio of wages to turnover has also dropped again – from 55% to 50%, five years af­ter wages were in ex­cess of an­nual turnover.

Khal­doon said that the de­vel­op­ment of the club un­der the own­er­ship of Sheikh Man­sour bin Zayed Al Nahyan “has never been any­thing other than a long-term project” and that “we have set am­bi­tious goals and achieved many of them faster than ex­pected in the last eight years, but we have never un­der­es­ti­mated the scale of the un­der­tak­ing.”

He said the club “has now reached a level of sport­ing and com­mer­cial ma­tu­rity that al­lows one to feed the other. [It is] the vi­sion for suc­cess and sus­tain­abil­ity that we have been work­ing to­wards since [buy­ing the club in] 2008.”

The in­vest­ment in City’s par­ent com­pany City Foot­ball Group by China Me­dia Cap­i­tal Hold­ings (CMC), which val­ued the Group at $3bil­lion, cer­tainly helped. The club can also fac­tor in the rev­enue from reach­ing the semi­fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons League.

The fi­nan­cial dis­tance be­tween City and tonight’s op­po­nents is sub­stan­tial: Barcelona’s rev­enues are around £600m. But City’s de­vel­op­ment also re­flects an imag­i­na­tive ap­proach to the com­mer­cial side of the business.

On a mi­cro level, their cre­ative use of video has been im­pres­sive, with the ‘Pep’s Taxi’, in which the man­ager takes a taxi trip with young sup­porter Bray­don Bent, a su­perb ex­am­ple of how to bring the club closer to sup­port­ers.

City, who say they are the fourth “most valu­able brand” af­ter Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona, re­port a 61% lift in the num­ber of video views they have had via Face­book and a 133% rise in the num­ber of min­utes of video viewed on YouTube. – The In­de­pen­dent

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