It’s an exciting time to be a Manchester City fan. The club’s experiencing it’s relatively new-found victories on the pitch which is now being matched in it’s off the field activities. The global brand is now steadily growing into one of the oldest and longest established clubs in the United Kingdom while at the same time now is set to be a formidable force in the English game, as well as Deloitte’s Football Money League, for years to come.
In spite of comically high levels of potential financial “mismanagement” in the industry, football clubs now have an immediate advantage over other kinds of businesses in the form of an unwavering, arguably fanatical customer base. Where companies work to build towards the long-term support of their clientele, football clubs on the other hand have it handed to them every time a child’s football shirt is bought by a parent trying to mould their infant in their own image of who they really want to be.
While the marketers, enjoy the rapidly growing business models of football clubs if nothing else developments are fascinating to watch, even if it seems to be an accountant’s worst nightmare.
Wage bills can equate to upwards of two-thirds of turnover and, in most cases, the expensively assembled squads depreciate in value exponentially. It is always the brand that keeps clubs afloat so long as the fans keep coming back for more.
Manchester City’s “brand” has had something of a renaissance in the past decades. After success in the 1960s and 1970s, the club hit harder times on occasion as their noisy red neighbours, Manchester United, soared to prominence again and again. Manchester United’s shadow crept over City like a ghost, as it did to the rest of the Premier League, but the tide has now finally turned. Thanks to more adequate investment, with additional success on the ground and the creation of the City Football Group (CFG), the club are now part of one of the sport’s global household names to have gone down in history.
August 2008 the Abu Dhabi United Group initially bought the football club crippled in a state of financial ruin with the hope of creating a club capable of rivalling their competitors. Success was in no way established as a fact in the beginning but what followed was a host of costly signings leading to the side eventually making 10th which was at the time three places behind Fulham.
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Chelsea’s international brand was very well established even before Roman Abramovich’s millions, were brought in with their London location and propensity to sign European talent ahead of the curve making them an interesting prospect for any various buyers. City has had to work much harder to build a truly global brand. Even though they have now indeed moved up the table rocketing from 20th in the Deloitte Football Money League in 2007/08 to 6th in 2014/15, which is in itself a magnificent rise owing in the main, to some innovative and brilliant decisions behind the scenes in the management and organisational skills of the back room.
Branding has been intense in the moves to push the club up the list into the current position it holds today.
According to Brian Marwood, a Manchester City executive. Ferran Soriano, CEO of CFG and Manchester City FC also mentioned that,
“With this structure we’re doing something that has never been done before…That means you have to take some risks, innovate and not be afraid to try new things in order to progress. There is no limit to what we can achieve so long as we put the effort in the first place.”
Marketing Week’s Mark Ritson put it another way saying, “If Manchester United is a ‘branded house’, Manchester City is a ‘house of brands’. From bungalow to stately home, the apparent 400 million-strong worldwide fan base is set to be exploited to full effect. In 2015, China Media Group acquired a 13% stake in CFG, a $400 million investment that sees Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi group effectively recoup their initial investment.
CFG is now valued at $3 billion which is roughly the same as the neighbouring footballing royalty legends of United. The MLS and the Australian A-League continue to grow to this day. The power and balance in one of England’s most historic footballing cities could well shift even further towards the east as time goes on.