Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the Abu Dhabi ruling family has spent more than £1.3bn directly investing into Manchester City since he took over in 2008, the club’s latest accounts have stated.
That fortune has been in addition to the £150m Mansour is understood to have paid City’s then owner, Thaksin Shinawatra, to buy the club, taking the total spent by Mansour to more than £1.45bn.
During the year to 30 June, in which the club registered a record £500.5m turnover and a profit of £10m as Pep Guardiola’s team swept to the Premier League title, Mansour nevertheless invested a further £58m in return for new shares.
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Roman Abramovich is the only English club owner whose expenditure comes close to that of Mansour’s; Chelsea’s accounts for 2016-17 put Abramovich’s total investment since 2003 at £1.17bn in loans. That level of billion-pound-plus investment by Mansour and Abramovich is by far more than any other owner has ever spent on an English club.
In a statement setting out the main elements of City’s 10-year transformation under the Abu Dhabi ownership – including Guardiola and his team, six clubs around the world, an extensive youth development system and investment in east Manchester – the chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, highlighted the club’s financial stability.
From announcing football’s record loss in 2010-11, £197m, when Mansour’s money was being spent buying players and paying wages which the club’s revenues could not then sustain, the profit for the financial year was the fourth in a row. A rise in City’s commercial income accounted for most of the £27m increase in turnover, as City have extended their sponsorship arrangements beyond Etihad and the other Abu Dhabi and United Arab Emirates sponsors which were the basis of their commercial operations in the first years of Mansour’s ownership.
Reflecting that making a profit four years in a row “may well have been rejected as fanciful by some commentators” years ago, Mubarak said: “We have not diverted in any way from our strategy for on-field success within a commercially and financially sustainable organisation.”
The annual report does, however, state: “Manchester City football club is reliant on its ultimate parent undertaking, Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Ltd, for its continued financial support.” As evidence of Mansour’s support, the report states that it has amounted to “more than £1.3bn over the last 10 years”.