Sheikh Mansour's Manchester City Should Be Praised, Not Punished, for Investing

Rob PollardFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 23:  Manchester City owner Sheik Mansour looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at City of Manchester Stadium on August 23, 2010 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Manchester City, who have been hit with a £49 million fine and restrictions on their Champions League squad numbers for next season after failing to comply with UEFA's Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, are considering challenging the ruling ahead of this week's deadline, as reported by Owen Gibson in the Guardian.

The new regulations limit losses between 2011 and 2013 to £37 million, an attempt, UEFA say, to control clubs spending beyond their means. City, who posted a loss of £149 million for the period under scrutiny, failed the test and will face punishments, but with their losses reducing and their revenue increasing, it's clear the club are moving toward self-sufficiency, exactly what UEFA president Michel Platini desires.  

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 07:  Edin Dzeko of Manchester City celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium on May 7, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael R
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Many have called into question the validity of FFP, claiming it is simply an "anti-subsidy initiative," restricting the level of investment a club's owner can make to challenge the established group of teams that have a stranglehold on success.

It's clear to most fans of the game that punishing a club who are pouring money into the game at both first-team and youth level, as well as in the decrepit surrounding area of East Manchester where their stadium is located, is absurd, particularly when their figures quite clearly show a trend toward self-sufficiency.

This summer, the club will open the Etihad Campus, an 80-acre site providing world-class training and medical facilities to players of all ages across the club. They want to produce homegrown talent capable of having a career at the highest level—again, exactly what Platini and his fellow UEFA suits are desperate for.

City have also made attempts to keep ticket prices low and the quality of matchday experience high, resulting in a high level of satisfaction among their supporters. In a period in which fans are struggling to meet the costs involved in supporting their team, City have emerged as the Premier League's torchbearers of fairness.

Indeed, there's a simple test one can apply to all of this involving another set of owners across Manchester. While Sheikh Mansour injects money into every level of City, taking them from spectacular underachievers to a major European force, the Glazer family over at Old Trafford, seen by the FFP criteria as model owners, use club profits to service debts incurred to finance the takeover of one of the biggest clubs in world football.

Ask any right-thinking fans of the game which regime they would prefer in charge of their club, and it's near-certain the vast majority would plump for Mansour.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 07:  Ashley Westwood of Aston Villa is closed down by Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium on May 7, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (P
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

While FFP poses as an initiative aimed at helping to promote stability in the game, it's actually punishing owners who are generous, those who have vast amounts of wealth and take over clubs with potential, helping them to achieve success previously unimaginable.

Effectively, FFP is restricting the ability of clubs who are currently outside of the elite group to ever make their way into the exclusive group of Europe's finest. City did it just in time and will likely have to take the medicine UEFA dish out to them for now.

Though their vastly improving financial figures mean they will soon be in a position to comply with the new rules whilst still being able to attract big-name players, regardless of UEFA's initiative. They are now sixth on the Deloitte Football Money League, with revenue in 2014 up to £271 million.

However, for those clubs not fortunate enough to be in a position to challenge for the major honours in the game, the dream of an investor-backed rise to the top of the game has been severely restricted by FFP rules.


Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard_.