The best team that money can buy?
When I first saw the headline that Manchester City was reporting a calendar year loss of £194.9 million ($307.7 million) I thought that I must have read it incorrectly.
City owner Sheikh Mansour has bankrolled a massive spending spree over the past few seasons as he attempts to turn the franchise into one Europe's elite. With UEFA's Financial Fair Play Rules being phased in over the next two seasons, Man City are banking on their investments to bring the club success.
On the pitch, City has collected top players such as Edin Dzeko at £27m, David Silva at £26m, Mario Balotelli, Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri all at £24m, and Aleksandar Kolarov for £19m. Collectively, Manchester City has spent more than £150m on players in the last fiscal year; the team's player payroll is currently at £174m.
Since Mansour purchased the team three years ago, Man City has spent over £500 million combined on player salaries and transfer fees.
So far Mansour has seen a return on his investment on the pitch.
City picked up its first trophy in 35 years with their 2011 FA Cup victory and their third place finish in the Premier League has put them in the Champions League for the first time in team history.
The Sheikh's plans are for City to be a regular participant in Europe's most lucrative club competition.
A huge revenue stream is guaranteed from City's 10-year stadium naming rights deal with Etihad Airways. Already Man City's shirt sponsor, Etihad is run by the the current President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Khalifa. Keeping it in the family, Khalifa also happens to be Sheikh Mansour's half brother.
While other teams have been unable, or unwilling, to compete with Man City's spending, time will tell if the Sheik's costly investments are worth it. City should win trophies in the immediate future, but it won't be for a few years until we get to see if it pays off long term.
The Financial Fair Play Rules are coming. Will it prove to have been a wise investment—or just another instance of a rich benefactor that treats owning a professional sports franchise as a hobby?