Tuesday, September 9, 2008

So how much would the Premiership title cost?

I was watching Sky Sports News earlier in the week, which featured a succession of United fans declaring that money is not enough to buy success. After I'd finished chuckling (the clear unease of many United fans really has the potential to become the best long-running joke in football ever) it did make me wonder exactly how much it might cost to create a side capable of winning the title and Champions League.

So below is a table that shows the combined spending on wages and net transfer dealings from the 03-04 season (when Abramovich bought Chelsea) until 06-07. The wage bills for the 05-06 and 06-07 seasons come from the BBC, the 03-04 figures are from here, and I've totally forgotten where I got the 04-05 figures from. The net transfer costs come from a variety of sources listed in this story from last week. The table only lists clubs who have been in the Premiership for all of those four seasons.

Working out how much our prospective new owners would actually be out of pocket should they engage in Chelsea-type spending is a little trickier. Chelsea lost a combined £360m in the first four seasons under Abramovich (details here and here), despite their turnover jumping from £75.1m to £190.5m. Personally, I can't imagine the Abu Dhabi royals would be interested in fleecing fans in the way Abramovich did, so I doubt we'd ever be able to come close to their level of turnover. And given the way wages and transfer fees are currently soaring, my guess is that a title-challenge by City could easily result in a bill of around £500m.

In the next table, I've played around with the figures to see which clubs used their resources the most efficiently. The table divides the amount each club spent on wages and transfers in those four seasons by the number of Premiership points won, while the final column shows how much better or worse each club has performed compared to the average. I've separated the Top 4 clubs from the others, as they've effectively been in their own league during this period.

(Click on table for better quality image)

Of course, a table like this is never going to reveal the full picture. In City's case, our big spending took place before the 03-04 season and ensured we had enough quality, and saleable assets, to survive a major belt-tightening. But one figure that is really telling is Newcastle's, whose current plight might be likened to the hangover that follows a rather extravagant night on the town.

Marketing department raise their game

Looks like they've played a blinder judging by photos posted by berger1985 over at Mancityfans. The stairwell banners contain the names of season ticket holders, which, given recent media coverage, is a nice reminder of who really matters at a football club.

Mind you, I'm not sure what to make of this story from Arabian Business, which reveals that City had drawn up a 83-page document detailing how the club could be re-branded as 'the Virgin of Asia and the world'.
Apparently, City-branded mini-coopers, an entire fashion range, and a chain of food outlets called “City Eating” were part of the grand scheme. My view is that if a branding exercise like this was practicable it probably would have already been tried by United or Chelsea, which leaves me with the distinct impression that this whole scheme was a lot of hopeful nonsense.

Meanwhile, over at Bluemoon, swede140 has posted a pic of what could be our new owner's masterplan:

Actually, I reckon that looks pretty stylish, in a Middle-East-meets-Wembley sort of way. And it does bring me onto a topic which needs addressing. I've noticed that a few fans have been printing up T-shirts to celebrate the Abu Dhabi takeover, while others are planning to attend the Chelsea game in Arab fancy dress.

I mentioned this to my partner, who has studied the Middle East and speaks Arabic, and she sounded out the opinion of a good Arab friend of hers. Their view is the Abu Dhabi royals probably wouldn't see the funny side to the fancy dress as they can be a little sensitive about their humble origins (though Palestinian Arabs would absolutely love it, apparently). However, we all agreed that as they're the ones buying into our club, and our culture, they're just going to have to get used to it.

However, one important thing needs to be said even though, for most people, this will be stating the obvious:

Please, please, don't create anything that includes an image of the Prophet Muhammad. This is considered by Muslims as the very worst insult to their religion and if it were shown on TV would likely result in bloodshed - and might even scupper the whole takeover.

~ In case you missed it, there was a fascinating piece in the Telegraph on Monday, which claims that Sulaiman Al Fahim is going to be sidelined after displeasing Sheikh Mansour with his outspoken comments on player purchases.
~ And finally, there's a great post at Wookie's Lair by a guy named Mick, who describes the fantastic reaction he got walking round Edinburgh in a City shirt last weekend.

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