Comparison of Manchester City’s wage bill with Manchester United and Liverpool FC supports Pep Guardiola’s argument.
The Deloitte Money League report compares Manchester City’s finances to those of other major European clubs.
It would be a shame if Manchester City finished sixth in any league these days.
However, one table produced this month indicates that City are trailing five local and European rivals in terms of investment, undermining one of the most common charges leveled at the Blues while also validating a major argument made by Pep Guardiola.
City won the Deloitte Money League for the second year in a row, with £619.1 million generated, including a Premier League record of nearly £330 million in commercial revenue. It was a significant gain above previous year’s revenue of £571.1m, demonstrating both development off the field and ongoing performance on it.
As City continues to dominate the domestic landscape and compete for European accolades, competitors will look for any stick to hit them with – and money is frequently an easy winner. If Guardiola ever changes his lineup and leaves some high-profile players on the bench, anticipate their transfer fees to be tallied and used against the Blues.
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Of course, the issue of elite teams using their financial muscle to acquire or hoard the finest young players impacts the entire football pyramid. However, every player has a market value, and City has walked away from numerous agreements if they believe the market value is too high. It’s not City’s fault that recent TV deals have inflated the worth of players and top-flight clubs’ money accounts.
As Guardiola has repeatedly stated unprompted, City’s net spending in recent seasons has been much lower than that of many of their rivals, and the club made a profit overall in 2022 thanks to the sales of players such as Gabriel Jesus, Raheem Sterling, and Aleks Zinchenko.
The manager’s message has been that, while City undoubtedly spends money, they attempt to spend it properly – and they are not the only team that does so. Consider Chelsea’s expenditure this month, or the reality that Manchester United has spent similarly to City in recent years but yet failing to win a major title since 2017. For example, Liverpool paid £120 million on Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo.
A closer look at the Deloitte Money League figures, courtesy of Swiss Ramble, reinforces Guardiola’s claim about City’s spending in comparison to others.
City’s pay bill is the sixth largest in Europe, and they are second only to Manchester United and Liverpool in the Premier League. Paris Saint-Germain leads the way with £615 million in pay, while Real Madrid’s £441 million and Barcelona’s £395 million costs are both higher than any Premier League team.
United had the largest salary bill in England in 2021/22, at £385 million, while Liverpool spent £368 million on wages last season. Only then does City come in at £353 million, just ahead of Chelsea’s £342 million. Nonetheless, City won the league last year ahead of Liverpool, with Chelsea and United finishing third and sixth, respectively, with 19 and 35 point deficits.
Bayern Munich, Juve, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, Arsenal, and Tottenham all spent between £200 and £300 million on salaries.
Interestingly, while City’s revenues behind Liverpool’s in terms of matchday and broadcasting income, a considerable amount of commercial revenue (£316m vs. £233m) meant that the Blues’ overall revenues were higher. In reality, City’s broadcasting revenue was lower than that of Liverpool and Real Madrid, while matchday revenue was the tenth-highest in Europe, highlighting the importance of their commercial operation.
It’s worth noting that City’s pay expenditure has grown since last season, thanks to the addition of Erling Haaland and a new deal for Phil Foden. While stars such as Sterling, Jesus, and Fernandinho have left, the amount for next season might potentially rise.
Chelsea, for example, have bought a number of high-earning players in the summer and in January, including Sterling, Marc Cucurella, Kalidou Koulibly, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Mykhailo Mudryk, among many others. They might easily overtake the Blues, while Liverpool and Manchester United have been active in the transfer market and could also remain ahead of City.
City has certainly spent a lot of money, but the Money League standings reveal that the majority of their top opponents have as well. Guardiola has been emphasizing the idea for weeks, so when their recent triumphs are contrasted to other high-spending clubs, he may have been attempting to say that success is not solely determined by a club’s financial resources.
What matters is what they do with it.