Manchester City have returned to being recognised as one of the world's top clubs having posted the largest relative growth of all sides in the annual Deloitte Football Money League, published yesterday.
City return to the top 20 after a one-year absence and, having posted a £20.5 million (Dh108m) increase in commercial revenue, Deloitte report the club's total revenue to be £82.3m. Spanish giants Real Madrid topped the table with an estimated revenue of €365.8m (Dh1,933m).
The report, which looks at revenue extracted from the club owners' financial statements, focuses on the 2007-08 season, rendering August's takeover by the Abu Dhabi Investment Group as inconsequential.
However, the news could act as a harbinger of future profits, according to Paul Rawnsley of the Sports Business Group of Deloitte.
Rawnsley says that, to an extent, the position of Manchester City could be likened to that of Chelsea before being taken over by Roman Abramovich.
The Russian bought the London club in 2003 when Chelsea were positioned midtable in the Money League. By the following year, the Blues were fourth.
"Chelsea were the 10th ranked club in terms of revenue generated when Mr Abramovich tookover," said Rawnsley. "Following heavy investment in players, better performances on the pitch and far better commercial performances, they have managed to push their way up to the top five.
"To some extent you can compare Manchester City to Chelsea, but obviously City are coming from a lower starting base and that's important to consider."
The report states that, while the severity of the financial crisis did not fully escalate until after the data was collected, the "unique nature of the football industry enables major clubs to be relatively resistant to the economic downturn".
Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: "This does not mean football clubs can be complacent, far from it. Butthey do have more time to plan and adjust."
Jones also revealed that the drastically depreciating pound has made business tougher for football clubs, with player acquisitions becoming more expensive if the player in question is being bought from abroad.
He also said the plunging exchange rate has had a major impact on clubs' positions in the Money League. Manchester United, who finished second with a total revenue of €324.8m, would have posted a final figure of €382m had the currency remained at the rate it was the previous year. Jones added: "If the exchange rate value of the pound had not depreciated, there would have been nine, rather than seven English clubs in the top 20 and Manchester United would have topped the Money League ahead of Real Madrid."
The weak pound does offer some positives however, as the Premier League looks to sell its television broadcasting rights overseas. Last week, the League revealed details of a three-year domestic deal, with the rights selling for £1.78 billion, an increase of four per cent on the previous deal. And with the pound weak against other currencies, any deal for overseas rights will likely see the League benefit.
Rawnsley said: "The depreciation of the pound compared to other major currencies potentially yields additional benefits for Premier League clubs. While $50m was worth £27m at May 2006 rates when certain international rights deals were announced, now, as the rights are back in the market, that same $50m is worth £35m."
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