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Revealed: massive hike puts City’s wages on course to top


By Nick Harris

15 January 2010

Manchester City’s wage bill has surged by more than 52 per cent in a year from £54.2m to £82.6m, sportingintelligence can reveal. The figures, included in the club’s full annual report – just filed at Companies House – were excluded from the data presented to the public when the club’s financial results were revealed on the MCFC website on 6 January.

The club said at the time that “substantial investment” by Sheikh Mansour during the 2008-09 season “has had a significant impact on this year’s financial results. This investment is also forecast to similarly impact the financial results of the next several years.”

City also acknowledged that a hike in operating costs to £121.2m (on turnover of £87m, which helped to lead to losses of £92.6m) had been “primarily driven by increased playing staff costs”. But it did not detail those costs, which in simple terms, have seen players’ play rise year-on-year by around £28m.

More startling is that that £82.6m wage bill was for a period before the signings of eight “star” players, headed by Carlos Tevez and Emmanual Adebayor, and also including Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz, Kolo Toure, Sylvinho, Joleon Lescott and Patrick Vieira. Some of those players have been handed contracts reportedly worth as much as £160,000 per week, or £8.32m per year. If all eight were paid that much, it would add some £66m to next year’s wage bill. That won’t happen because not all those players will be being paid anywhere near that amount. One source says Vieira is earning £70,000 per week, for example, and even that is incentive-based.

It is impossible without full disclosure from a club or player to know how accurate such individual wage guestimates are, but even if a truer average for the new players were closer to £100,000 per week each (£5.2m a year), which is feasible, then City’s overall wage bill could take another upward hike of around £40m when figures for the current season become available this time next year. When the cost of Mark Hughes’ sacking plus the hiring of Roberto Mancini are also factored in, a total club wage bill of £125m-plus in a year’s time is likely.

This will see City leapfrog most if not all the other clubs in the Premier League in wages. Certainly they should overtake Arsenal (£104m in 2008-09) and Liverpool (£90m in 2007-08). Chelsea and Manchester United are the only other clubs who will realistically be in City’s £125m-plus total wage bracket for 2009-10. Manchester United’s total staff costs for 2008-09, for example, were £123.1m, with football staff costs (wages for players, manager, coaches, academy and direct footballing employees) somewhere just over the £100m mark. Chelsea’s total club wage bill for 2008-09 has yet to be disclosed, but was around £140m in 2007-08 after “exceptional” items including compensation for sacked managers was taken out.

Manchester City’s big-spending policy on wages will catapult them up the rankings of sportingintelligence’s list of highest-paid clubs by average first-team salary. According to our calculations, City’s average pay for a first-team player in 2007-08 was £1,356,657 per year (£26,090 a week). This placed them at No92 in our table of latest earnings among the 211 sports teams from around the world in our sports salaries database as of today.

According to our calculations for 2008-09, taking into account a larger playing squad for that season, and making adjustments in line with our usual procedures (which are detailed here), City’s average first-team pay for 2008-09 had risen to £1,901,548 per year (£36,568 per week). That is on course to smash through the £50,000 per week barrier, and make City one of the best-paid football teams in the world.

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