Saturday, 16 July 2011

It's really starting to get to them.

Since Manchester City announced the new 10 year deal with Etihad, thought to be worth £400m, there have been some high profile detractors. The two most vociferous of which have been Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger, and more recently Liverpool's Managing Director Ian Ayre.

To be honest, they're both pathetic and hypocritical.

Arsene is well known for his selective blindness and unwillingness to admit when he's wrong, and over the last week he's been harping on like an old fishwife about how City are disregarding UEFA's FFP rules and are guilty of what he calls 'financial doping' in order to get more money.

He's been getting all the soundbites in saying things like; "They give us the message they can get around [the FFP rules] by doing what they want."

And; "The credibility of financial fair play is at stake."

Is it Arsene? Is it really? Well, the credibility of the FFP rules are questionable anyway but that has nothing to do with the deal between Manchester City and Etihad. What he's really referring to is that the deal dwarfs that of Arsenal's which was signed in 2004.

"Normally sponsorship has to be at market price if it is to have a chance."

"It cannot be doubled, tripled or quadrupled..."

Why not? As I'll mention later on Liverpool's kit deal has gone from £6m with Carlsberg to £20m with its most recent sponsor, Standard Chartered. If I'm not mistaken Arsene, that's more than tripled, something which you claim shouldn't be done. So where were you when that deal was struck?

That aside, any deal made has to be beneficial for both parties involved hasn't it? And considering Ethad is a company in its own right I'm sure the directors there would decide what was 'market price' or 'fair value'.

Clearly when Arsenal managed to seal the sponsorship with Emirates, both companies got what they thought was a fair deal for the stadium naming rights and shirt sponsorship.

When pen was put to paper the Arsenal-Emirates contract was the largest of its kind, worth £100m. But this was to be spread over a 15 year period, gaining Arsenal a little over £6.5m a year.

This raised a few eyebrows in 2004 and you can see why when Arsenal director Keith Edelman said; "No one in the UK has ever got substantial amounts; maybe less than £1m or possibly £200k a year." And here's the key point; "But it all depends on the level of interest that you get."

So the scope of how big a deal can be has something to do with the "level of interest that you get." This of course is nothing new as the higher the profile of the club being invested in the higher the deal is likely to be.

With the Premier League being the most watched football league in the entire world, with TV revenue and media coverage increasing year upon year you would expect the 'biggest' clubs to attract the better contracts.

An argument could easily be made that Arsenal dramatically undersold themselves considering Liverpool have a shirt sponsorship deal worth £20m a year. Ok Liverpool have been the more successful team over a longer period of time but no one could argue that since the dawn of the Premier League Arsenal have been the 'bigger' team in terms of trophies and honours.

So why did Arsenal sign such a long-term contract for a stadium and kit sponsorship that worked out at a price lower than other teams in the top half of the table? In 2006 Liverpool were getting £6m a year from then kit sponsors Carlsberg.

This brings me nicely on to Liverpool's Ian Ayre and the recent outburst against City; "They surprised me for a number of reasons," he says whilst in Malaysia to watch Liverpool on a money making tour.

"First I don't think it's consistent. It certainly hasn't happened in Europe where a football club has renamed an existing stadium and it has had real value."

Is this a statement of fact Ian? No of course not, it's opinion of course. I wonder if he had asked any club's and companies involved in stadium naming sponsorships before coming out with this? Probably not, but hey ho, why should that matter?

He then goes on to say that the City-Etihad deal to rename CoMS is "odd because it has never been done before" in the respect that a stadium known by one thing has not had its name changed to something else.

At this moment in time I'll just say Leicester City... There are others of course but this is a very recent example which Ian completely ignored for the purpose of his argument.

Of course Ian Ayre also mentions the amount of money the deal is apparently worth by stating that "There is no benchmark in Europe, certainly in football, that says you can rename your stadium and generate that amount of value."

Once again he is forgetting a very simple but also very crucial detail. It is not just the stadium naming rights that have been sold. Nor does he take into account that the official sum and breakdown of the figures involved have not been released. So how could anyone know exactly what the stadium naming element is worth? The answer is other than City, Etihad and UEFA, no one does.

Again this is all very hypocritical seeing as Liverpool are currently looking into jazzing up Anfield or building a new stadium from scratch. And what would they do if they built a new stadium? You guessed it, you can bet you mortgage on it that they would instantly sell the naming rights.

Are you telling me that if a company came and offered you a supposed record breaking sum of money to sponsor the stadium and change its name you wouldn't jump at the chance? Is that what you're saying Ian? You can hear him backtracking already. Hypocrite.

What amazes me next is that he then clearly presumes that City's legal representatives and financial bods have not scoured through the 91 page document that lists the dos and don't of the FFP rules.

"Is Etihad, Manchester City and Sheikh Mansour a related party?" He asks. "If it is, then it's for UEFA to rule on."

No Mr Ayre, they're not a related party. Etihad is not owned by Sheikh Mansour and although it is owned by his half brother, this still does not fall under the "related party" issue under the FFP rules. "Why not?" you can hear him thinking as he begins to frantically flick through the pages.

I'll give you a hand Ian. Page 81-82 under the heading Related party, related party transactions, and fair value of any related party transactions.

When defining what the term "related party" means, it says it "may include that person's children and spouse or domestic partner, children of that person's spouse or domestic partner, and dependants of that person or that person's spouse or domestic partner."

I could add in the points about Sheikh Mansour's half brother having little to no influence over him or City, no stake in City etc etc which again would prohibit the deal being done, but that would be pointless, as you can see from the above paragraph that the deal does not meet the prohibition through related party contracts.

After his rant Ian Ayre then has the cheek to say; "But it is nothing to do with us."

You're damn right it has nothing to do with you! So keep your nose out at least until you know all the facts, or at least acknowledge the facts that are already available.

Talking of facts; the fact is that the two most vociferous opponents of the Etihad deal are both clubs have an agenda. City have recently overtaken both of them in the league and neither are looking as though they will catch up.

Now I'm not going to be arrogant enough to say that City have more fans world wide, sell more shirts, have more trophies and so on. But Arsenal haven't won anything for 6 years, Liverpool haven't finished above City for the last two seasons, thus not having any Champions League football.

It's looking likely that they will be scrapping for 4th spot along with Spurs next season as neither City, Chelsea or United look set to fall out of the top three places. Arsenal are set for yet another 'transitional' season and Liverpool, despite spending heavily so far, have not landed anyone of earth shattering quality to add to what was a relatively average squad last term compared to the teams that finished directly above them.

Don't you think it's a bit of a coincidence that the two teams than want so desperately to get back above City are the two making the most noise and crying foul over what City have managed to do?

I don't, it's obvious they don't like the fact that they've both been dumped out of their comfort zones by what they consider to be a lesser team. Well I've got a message to Arsenal and Liverpool; get used to it.

City have gatecrashed the party and there's no sign of them leaving it any time soon.

As I have mentioned, the deal with Etihad is much more than the changing of a stadium name. But if you don't know what the deal entails, check out my other blog at this url:

1 comment:

Comments containing abusive, foul or discriminatory language will not be published.