Manchester City, the Premier League’s dominant team for much of the past decade, announced on Wednesday it had spent more on player salaries last season than any team in British soccer history, paying out more than $500 million as it claimed English and European championships.
Backed by the lavish spending of its owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nayhan, the brother of the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, last season City secured a third straight Premier League championship, the F.A. Cup and its first Champions League title — completing a so-called treble that only one English team had previously managed to do.
City’s success has been built on the tactical acumen of the team’s Spanish coach, Pep Guardiola, and an array of world-class players, but also on a seemingly limitless supply of cash. City now trails only Barcelona in how much it pays its players in salaries, but unlike that Spanish superteam City’s expenditure has not resulted in financial crisis. Instead, City also announced record revenues of 712.8 million pounds, or almost $900 million — another British record — for the year through June 2023.
The club’s annual statement also boasted a profit of 80 million pounds, double what it reported a year earlier. All of the figures highlighted a transformation in City’s economic circumstances, which for years had been defined by heavy losses created by a level of spending that few rivals could match.
City’s commercial success and its financial progress, however, have for years been shrouded in controversy. A yearslong Premier League investigation that this year produced more than 100 charges of rule breaking against the team — most linked to allegations of inflated sponsorship deals with companies in the United Arab Emirates and misreported salaries. City has challenged the Premier League’s charges, and its conclusions about the club’s finances.
An independent panel acting on behalf of the league has spent years hearing the case, which was opened in 2018 after a leak of internal club documents. In 2020, City successfully appealed a ban from the Champions League imposed after a separate investigation by European soccer’s governing body, winning on a technicality after its lawyers successfully argued the information that formed the core of the case was time barred.
Those legal troubles have not distracted the team on the field, where it has become one of the most reliable winning machines in English soccer history. City has secured four of the last five Premier League titles, and with 13 games of the current season played it currently sits in its customary place at the top of the table.
City’s chairman, Khaldoon al Mubarak, a top lieutenant of the Emirati royal family, said the team would not be slowing down any time soon. The club would be “doubling down on the proven philosophies and practices that have brought us this success,” he said in comments released by the club.
“We will continue to question all the industry norms,” he added.