Sunday, 10 July 2011

Are City really in hot water with the new ETIHAD deal?

Well it seems the media and some clubs are well and truly spitting their dummies out over City’s new sponsorship deal, calling for UEFA to investigate and even veto the agreement. It’s no secret that City’s takeover sparked the beginnings of the Financial Fair Play rules as Europe’s top clubs choked at the thought of someone outside of their clique should be able to gatecrash their timeshare of the domestic and European honours.

Now those same clubs along with the media are crying foul that City have managed to secure what is now being touted as up to £400m over the next decade. All that money for just selling the naming rights to what was now formally known as the City of Manchester Stadium? Well not exactly, but we’ll come to that later on.

The most vociferous of the critics from the football world have been Arsenal and Bayern Munich (according to the media). Now let me see, why would Arsenal and Bayern Munich have such sour grapes over such a deal?

Arsenal have seen Manchester City buy a number of their players over the last few seasons with the latest arrival being Gael Clichy. And although certain sections of supporters and so called experts will tell you he hasn’t had a good season, the statistics tell another story showing him as one of the best in the Premiership. City have also been heavily linked with a deal for Samir Nasri.

Gael Clichy shows off his new shirt after signing of City from Arsenal

A spokesman of the Arsenal Supporters Trust has been outspoken regarding the deal with ETIHAD saying: "It's like a match where one side decides to follow the offside rule and one doesn't. The City deal drives a coach and horses through the market place."

Earlier on this week the spokesman also stated: "The deal at Manchester City stretches credulity to the limit. The numbers just don't stack up."

Forgive me if I’m wrong but this just sounds like sour grapes. City have caused a stir amongst Arsenal supporters after they not only beat them to third in the league but have also taken one of their best players and are linked with another this transfer window. Add to this that Arsenal’s board simply refuse to spend money on proven players and other club’s aiming to poach other Arsenal stars it’s likely to leave Arsenal in another ‘transitional’ state of limbo yet again.

And now for Bayern Munich whose Chief Executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has ‘blasted’ or ‘slammed’ the deal (depending on what headline you read) saying: “Maybe they still have a trick up their sleeves but I’m not sure that they will be permitted to play in the Champions League.”

But let’s have a look at what he said moments earlier shall we?

“You have to look at it soberly – the player is under contract with Manchester City and the decision lies with them. They have demanded a price we will never be willing to pay.”

German International Jerome Boateng playing for Manchester City

Oh so Bayern aren’t bothered about the deal? No, although the papers would have you believe the first quote is talking about the ETIHAD deal. What he’s actually moaning about is that City won’t sell them Jerome Boateng on the cheap. And that, as they say Karl, is harte Schei├če.

Thank you Independent for trying to mislead us with the context in which those words were spoken by omitting the full detail. That’s a snide trick I would’ve expected the Daily Fail or the Sun to try.

So, getting back to the point, something else that the media aren’t happy about is that the owner of ETIHAD Airways is Sheikh Mansour’s half-brother and feel that the deal has been done at inflated values in order to gain an unfair advantage in the market.

Well as it was pointed out at the press conference at the unveiling of the deal, CEO of ETIHAD Airways, James Hogan made the point perfectly clear when asked if the Abu Dhabi government had invested in the deal through Sheikh Mansour. Hogan said “We’re (ETIHAD) a stand-alone business… [and] are responsible for our own commercial activities. So the funding of this deal is by ETIHAD Airways.”

Is that clear enough for everyone?

If not here’s some more from James Hogan: “We (ETIHAD) had very strong commercial requirements. If it didn’t add up we wouldn’t be doing it.”

And let us not forget that this is much more than just the sale/sponsorship of the stadium naming rights. It encompasses the shirt sponsorship and a substantial amount of ground that City own around the stadium. The ground on which major work will be done in the near future. Ground that will eventually consist of a new training ground, community football pitches, a swimming pool, a new speedway, and educational facilities and an ETIHAD call centre. Some or all of which could bare the ETIHAD logo.

Hogan describes the historic deal as “Far beyond the typical sponsorship-club agreement.” And when you actually look at it, it is!

We were initially getting figures of £120m-£150m it caused a stir but now the estimated figures have jumped to £400m sheer panic has set in. But if you break it down is it really that ludicrous?

As was mentioned earlier we have 3 major parts of this contract; the stadium naming rights, the kit sponsorship, and the naming of the campus around the stadium. Say for a moment that the naming rights are £150m which is the figure touted earlier on in the year, and the naming of the grounds around the stadium are also £150m (which seems fair if the stadium is the same). This now leaves £100m kit sponsorship deal.

Obviously these figures are complete guesses but not unrealistic in their logic. Barcelona have recently signed a kit sponsorship deal worth €150 (£125m) over 5 years with Qatar Foundation which works out at £24m a year. If the figures I used are anywhere near correct, City will make £10m a year from the kit sponsoring element. Hardly over the odds is it?

And I hate to bring “them” up but the rags already get £23m a year from Nike and there are rumours of a £400m 10 year kit sponsorship deal with them... Has anyone batted an eyelid about this? Don’t be silly, of course they haven’t. £40m a year for a kit sponsorship alone but people are up in arms about what is essentially a whole company sponsorship for the same price.

It’s impossible to think that City have gone about this blindly without checking the rules and regulations regarding such a deal. And something which all of the media has conveniently missed is that during the Q&A after the initial press conference Gary Cook specifically stated: “We have a very open dialogue with UEFA, we’ve had several meetings with UEFA about our plans.”

Cook Even went on to say the UEFA were “very supportive of Manchester City’s ambition.”

There it is in black and white, but if you don’t believe that the full press conference can be viewed on citytv on if you want to check it out.

The hypocrisy of the press over this is truly sickening, and the obvious jealousy of sections of fans is highly laughable. Although they can both get under your skin sometimes, do we really need to care what the press and opposition fans come out with to try and knock us down? No, we know what’s going on, City are more open with its fans than any other Club in the world.

Should we be worried about being able to comply with the FFP rules UEFA created to keep the traditionally big clubs at the top and everyone else looking on in frustration? Hell no! We have owners and a boardroom who know what they’re doing when it comes to business. And that’s what football is today, a business, and it has been like that for some time whether we like it or not.

Once everyone’s 2nd favourite team because they were the plucky underdog, the team who never quite made it, the team who weren’t considered a threat, but now hatde beyond belief because they have the cheek to have a wealthy owner who has turned the club around and continues to do so in dramatic style.

As the saying goes, hated or adored but never ignored. And just like their new ETIHAD Airways A330 – 200 namesake, the blue moon will continue to rise for some time.
Kit man Les Chapman enjoying the ride on ETIHAD's A330-200 City airliner.

ETIHAD Airways' Manchester City A330-200



  1. The whole point of the investment from the shiek is a sponsorship... he is using City to promote his business interests in the West... this re-naming of the ground is just a part of that process.. stupid to see it as anything else, he is investing for a return. i would imagine that the purpose of the financial fair play rules are to stop fraudsters using clubs for money-laundering and other such illicit dealings then leaving clubs with massive debt... like maybe some of the goings on at clubs like Portsmouth.


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