Manchester has forever been a polarised city when it comes to football. There would certainly be no quarrels from the populace should the city council reintroduce segregation and physically divide the city into red and blue.
City fans could then laud about how their public toilets are geographically closer to the city than United’s while the reds’ adult establishments would welcome European talents on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, seemingly unperturbed by the taunts of the neighbours.
But such polarisation is no longer unique to the partisan support; the financial books also speak of a similarly wide differential.
In terms of turnover, according to the Guardian’s figures for May/June 2009, United remains top dog. United’s £279m figure is vast in comparison to City’s £87m. It’s nothing more than what was expected. City are still floundering in their attempt to reach the zenith of European football thus TV rights will be invariably higher in the red camp. With regards to merchandising, United’s overseas fan base still dwarfs that of any other English club. Ticket sales of course are limited by the City of Manchester stadium’s smaller capacity.
The wage bill also makes interesting reading. Both sums are up on the previous year but United’s are smaller in proportion to turnover. Much smaller in fact: 44%. Besides frugal Arsenal, this is the lowest amount within the Premier League. United’s wage bill has also risen the least. The implication is that this is one of the many Glazer-imposed financial restrictions created in order to maximise annual turnover.
City’s comparatively high figure of 95% will hardly cause concern amongst their devotees. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has already ploughed a staggering £395m into the club, can easily foot the bill. It’s clear though that City will need to grow in order to sustain a consistently growing wage bill which has swelled 54% in the financial year. They were only beaten in that respect by Stoke and Hull both of who were securing themselves for further life in the Premier League before the end of the financial year in 2009.
Debt, of course, is the main talking point. The benefactors of the blue half of Manchester have more-or-less assuaged the countenance of the debt collectors. The total amount numbers to £37m with a measly £2.7m in payable interest. The only foreseeable problem City should be concerned with – financially at least, will be the creation of UEFA’s financial fair play initiative which will encourage clubs to break even without the intervention of generous outsiders.
United’s debts, on the other hand, total £717m with £69m in payable interest, all of which the club itself is responsible for paying. To add insult to injury, since the Glazer take-over in 2005, the owners themselves have also personally taken over £22.9m out of the club without investing a single dime. It’s quite simply scandalous.
The financial fortunes of the clubs have unquestionably flipped in recent years. Every true blue will reminisce of the days when Manchester City found themselves in English football’s third tier. And now they have the financial muscle to wrangle their more famous neighbours to the ground. In the future, expect the blue side to resist European financial legislation from limiting their expansion and expect the red half to throw the kitchen sink at their beefy American caretaker.
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