Premier League giants Manchester City posted a net loss of £126 million for the turbulent 2019/20 season following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the latest accounts published by the club, City saw an 11% dip in revenue to £478.4 million as a result of delayed income from top-flight, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League fixtures, player sales and season ticket refunds.
However, it was pointed out that the sale of winger Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich in July 2020, estimated to be worth around €45 million with add-ons rising to a potential €60 million, are not included in the report.
Nonetheless, the club expects to bounce back and ‘immediately return to profitability’ for the current campaign, forecasting a loss of less than £60 million a year across the two terms.
The club, which recorded a £10.1 million profit the previous year, cited the staging of games behind closed doors amid the pandemic along with the reduction in media rights revenues following rebates issued by the Premier League to broadcasters, as primary reasons for its financial setbacks.
Despite the suspension of the season from 14 April to 17 June, the club continued to pay directly engaged casual matchday workers in full for the fixtures they were scheduled to work.
“Clearly, the 2019-20 accounts in isolation are not the best representation of the reality of the season with delayed player trading and numerous games being played after 30 June 2020, the revenues from which will be accounted for in the 2020-21 period,” explained Manchester City Chief Executive, Ferran Soriano.
“A better financial picture of the COVID years will be provided at the end of the 2020-21 season, when the two seasons are combined and normalised.”
However, the results fall significantly short of Manchester United’s net debt of £455.5 million in 2021, after the Sky Blues’ cross-city rivals published the latest financial results last month.
City Chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, reaffirmed in his report that the business is ‘fundamentally strong, with committed shareholders and with significant assets, built carefully over a decade and upon more than a century of history’.
He added: “Our long-term approach has meant that we are now not wholly dependent on income streams that have been most vulnerable to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.”
Scooping Sports Innovation Lab’s award for most innovative team in the world at the beginning of the year, the firm praised City’s efforts when negotiating the pandemic which ‘changed the entire business landscape’ in sport.
City also launched its ‘Cityzens at Home’ platform during the coronavirus crisis to boost fan engagement amid the spectator ban, as highlighted in the report. The platform allowed supporters to ‘remain close to the club’ through a stream of behind-the-scenes content, educational and entertainment resources.
The club also reaffirmed that it continues to meet financial commitments despite after its UEFA-imposed ban from the Champions League was overturned last year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for breaching Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, which could be set for ‘dramatic’ reforms later this year.
Pep Guardiola’s side currently sit at the summit of the Premier League table, extending their lead at the top to 14 points after triumphing over Leicester City 2-0 during the Easter weekend.