For everybody involved with Manchester City FC, it is hard to look back on the 2014-15 season without a degree of disappointment. Despite some strong performances, and a second place finish in the Premier League, the Club ended its domestic and European campaigns without a title to show for its efforts.
The fact that we consider last season to be below par for Manchester City is a testament to how far we have come in the last seven years. This is a level of ambition that we should not shirk or shy away from. It is right to have high expectations for this great Club and the talented group of players chosen to represent it.
Of the many things that have changed since the Club broke its trophy drought with the FA Cup in 2011, a widespread belief in our ability to compete and succeed has been one of the most significant developments. No team can expect to win every year, but competing to win in England’s domestic competitions and improving our performance in the UEFA Champions League are entirely reasonable goals for Manchester City.
The desire for silverware has always been a critical element of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed’s strategy for the reinvigoration of Manchester City FC both on and off the pitch. It’s a strategy predicated on long-term sustainability and the ongoing development of momentum year-after-year.
As a result of the momentum created to date, this season, Manchester City FC delivered a profit of £10.7m from record annual revenues of £351.8m and a seventh straight year of year-on-year revenue growth. Once again, the season saw the Club operating with zero financial debt.
Our transition to profitability has been a long-planned milestone—one targeted and worked diligently towards since His Highness Sheikh Mansour’s acquisition of the club in 2008. As a result, to put things in their simplest terms, we are now a profitable business with no debt and no outstanding restrictions.
Financial profitability was not the only planned long-term milestone to be achieved this year. The opening, in December 2014, of the City Football Academy (CFA) saw our men’s, women’s and youth teams come together to train at the same site in the shadow of the newly expanded Etihad Stadium. With two-thirds of the site dedicated to youth football, our infrastructure is now contributing to a clear and strong pathway from our Academy and development squads to top-tier football.
The CFA is already having a transformational impact on the recruitment, training and development of our people. Importantly, it has also positively impacted the community in which it sits. But our belief is that the most powerful contribution that the CFA will make is to the young players who graduate from it now and in the years to come; by helping them to reach their potential both on the field and in their wider lives.
The signs are all positive. Our Academy enjoyed one of its most successful years to date with accomplishments at every age group, whilst our players participating in the St Bede’s School programme achieved academic success with GCSE results 5 percentage points above the national average. Ten players from our development system earned first team debuts in 2014-15 and in their inaugural season the re-launched Manchester City Women’s FC won the Continental Cup, with nine members of the MCWFC first team playing for their national squads.
The CFA has global resonance and that has significantly contributed to the ongoing growth of the Manchester City brand globally. All metrics point to the right kind of accelerated commercial growth and that development is also in large part due to the City Football Group strategy that has been rolled out over the last two years. The Group creates global scale and at the same time regional and local expertise in all aspects of operations. It is a credit to all those involved and in particular to the leadership of Ferran Soriano.
Whilst last year was not the complete performance that we strove for, we continued to deliver against many of our objectives and in doing so further strengthened the foundations for future success. It is heartening to feel the shared purpose and ambition now common to everyone involved with Manchester City. The new season brings with it a welcome and renewed opportunity to test our capabilities and once again measure how far we have come as a Club.
Khaldoon Al Mubarak,
Manchester City Football Club, Chairman