Manchester City To Be Biggest Club Commercially Within Five Years
My club, Manchester City are in the habit of doing things differently. Not just now but throughout the clubs history.
Alex Ferguson has famously called them the 'noisy neighbours' something he seems to be regretting now.
Ferguson is the personification of the old guard that cannot keep up with the way things are developing at City, holding on in vain hope that City will go away.
On-field of course City are in the spotlight due to the massive investment in the playing squad. Because of that they are getting closer to the important Champions League qualification. Once that is met it will no doubt trigger even more investment in the playing side of things.
But away from the playing side Manchester City are quietly going about the business of changing how a football club will make money and meet the Financial Fair Play Regulations.
Although there are no public plans in place for us all to get excited about there are enough tidbits of info for me to pull together a picture for you.
It may seem extraordinary to those unaware of City's vision that the money pumped into the club to date stands at over £600m.
The initial club purchase and player recruitment makes up most of that of course but there has also been -
£8m on the Platt Lane training centre - the original home of City' academy and a community hub
£10m+ on Carrington, the first team training base
£5m on a new office development at the City of Manchester Stadium (COMS)
£5m new ticket office and club shop
£7m on website and social media developments
£4-6m on the development of the Family Stand and City Square
Other smaller scale investments have been made but as impressive these outlays are it will soon be considered chicken feed.
Next door to COMS is a site originally intended as the home of the UK's first 'Super Casino'. Government intervention meant that those plans were shelved and it just so happens that shortly after that decision was made City were bought by Sheikh Mansour.
Diagonally across the road from the Casino site is another plot of land, originally of about 70 acres which City have bought and are adding more land purchases to.
On the other side of COMS are further areas where City have bought land for development.
Further away from COMS still are car parks and rough land that are now earmarked for development.
In total it has been suggested that City will head a £1bn investment in a leisure destination and a training complex second to none i world sports.
What is certain is that City are to develop the training complex across the road which will be a feature accommodation for players, including youth players from the EDS (Elite Development Squad).
There is also to be a sports science college with tie-ins to the University of Manchester.
A new glittering 'leisure destination' aims to draw in 6m visitors a year with the intention of grabbing families for a weekend or even a week. They will take in a couple of games, watch the training sessions and stay in the hotels provided on-site.
Other sports will also be provided for and branded under the MCFC name.
Rugby, athletics and basketball are all mooted to be under the City 'brand' in the future. Similar to the Barcelona model.
The leisure destination is likely to offer something of quality and be family oriented but there are also plans for 'match day' experiences for the single man. In the future if you want a pint and a bite to eat the pub will be second choice to the City experience.
And then there is the development of COMS itself which is expected to be at least 65,000 capacity at a minimum in three years.
Increases in capacity may take the headlines but the high value corporate clients will have the very best of everything, and be expected to pay for it.
Prior to any of these developments City had increased their commercial revenues considerably and are now have the 11th highest turnover in the world.
By the end of the planned developments it would not be a surprise to see City at the head of that list.
With a new kit deal, stadium naming rights, increased capacity and a lot more corporate hospitality in place City could realistically look at a further £120m revenue per year.
Add in the suggested £50m per season Champions League monies and already City would be in the top 5 of the worlds biggest clubs in T/O terms.
But it is the massive returns from the 365/24/7 leisure destination that could mean City are found even further up that list.
If City do invest £1bn then it is a reasonable expectation for a 20% revenue ROI will follow.
And of course none of this takes into consideration the international opportunities that City are nurturing.
As Africa, India and China grow so will football clubs' revenues but City are particularly well placed to take advantage of these opportunities as they have cash rich owners.
But the real money will be in North America, a mature market in disposable income terms but one yet to be fully tapped into.
And so City are now partnered with ESPN (part of the Disney family) and have plans for some US academies where there will be year long opportunities to market the club to a massive soccer playing demographic.
A further partnership with the MLS will see City merchandise in every franchise outlet across North America.
Similar investments in College Soccer could follow further embedding the City 'brand' in the US conscience.
So once City are the Premier League club (and more importantly brand) of choice in the US then the close ties that City have with Nike (City's CEO Garry Cook was in charge of Brand Jordan) it can be not too long before sports stores across the US have City merchandise available.
With all of this noisy neighbour behaviour there are some estimates suggesting that City could be the first football club (business) with a turnover in excess of £1bn.
I for one wouldn't put it past them.
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