Sheikh Mansour’s biggest win: Manchester City’s $4.6 billion increase in value

Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour is always open to discussion about his motivations.

Every significant accomplishment his team achieves, from winning a domestic triple to reaching the Champions League final; there is always the question: Why?

Why would an Abu Dhabi royal choose to invest his wealth in a team from Northern England’s cold and wet city?

Roman Abramovich, Chelsea’s counterpart, is the one who has been speculating incessantly. He will be facing them in this year’s Champions League final.

The Russian owner of the club faced questions early in his reign, but these have been avoided since.

Mansour, on the other side, has been subject to greater scrutiny as the time passes.

Despite his almost non-interview with the media, public perceptions of his intentions have changed.

City is no longer a trophy asset owned by a wealthy individual. Instead, the theory is that the club serves as a PR tool for a country with questionable human rights records.

The country is, it seems, the owner of the club.

It is so ingrained that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klipp will casually refer to, describing his rivals as “owned by countries, or owned by oligarchs.”

It is inaccurate.

Mansour has actively sold stakes to major investors, so that nearly a quarter of the club does not belong to him.

In 2015, 13% was sold for $400m to a group of Chinese investors. This was followed by the sale in 2019 of just over 10% of that amount to an American private equity firm Silver Lake.

These investors have representatives on the board. Mansour still retains control of the company, but their participation is not a gimmick.


Worth 2,000 Times More

Mansour’s massive investment in the club has meant that the huge increase in its value is almost never mentioned.

The Sheikh’s 2008 takeover of $212 million looks very smart when you consider the numbers.

Accounts show that he has spent $1.8 billion since then to transform the club from a mid-table team to one of the all-conquering greats.

This has led to the club being valued at nearly $4 billion.

Keep in mind that he also made close to a trillion dollars from the sale of his stakes, which helps offset a significant portion of his investment.

City, despite the coronavirus season, now turns profit. The owner’s role is more about providing a loan facility to keep the club debt-free.

Because of the large investment already made, the gains will be greater over time.

They have the most impressive sporting infrastructure in the world, and are pioneering a network with sister clubs around the globe.

Mansour can also sell another stake if he wants to make some extra money, as he has done in the past.

He would make a huge profit if he sold the club.

Other than takeovers, other investors can expect further growth and, even more important, a return on their investment.

City Football Group’s multi-club ownership model is unrivalled among elite clubs. It offers growth opportunities in markets that are more attractive than other teams.

Manchester City is likely to see further success in Europe, despite the European Super League’s failure.

“I don’t think [CIty football Group] CFG wants to sell,” said Kieran Maguire, University of Liverpool expert on soccer finance.

“I believe they will reap the benefits in a non-financial area if they are happy.

“But, there are also opportunities to the junior partners like the Chinese partner to make long-term financial returns on City.

“If they move to the expanded Champions League, where they’re going then to have a team that is likely to succeed, then all of sudden it will prove very lucrative.”


‘fairytale’ ownership

The reaction to the European Super League’s announcement showed that soccer is not a popular business idea in Britain.

Despite the fact that the game was taken over by men in suits a long while back, the belief of club ownership as an emotional investment is still strong.

It is romanticized to imagine a fan who spends their money in their boyhood club. Then again, there are many examples of British tycoons whose wealth was used to purchase success.

From Jack Walker’s bankrolling Blackburn Rovers through to the Premier League
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Title to Dave Whelan, who transformed Wigan Athletic into FA Cup winners through his JJB Sports fortune. The story is well-established.

Foreigners who show up with the intent to do the same were viewed with suspicion. This is strange considering there are many examples of British owners who purchased clubs they weren’t connected to.

It doesn’t matter if Steve Morgan, a Liverpool-mad fan, buys Wolverhampton Wanderers. Or Ken Bates, a Queens Park Rangers fan, acquires Chelsea. A longstanding connection with the club is a guarantee.

For the fans, popularity at a club or player has always been a function of how much they put into it.

Fans expect a full 110%, whether it’s a full back making a tackle or an owners spending $1 million more to sign a football player.

This is why the European Super League backlash against Arsenal, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur ownership was more severe than Chelsea and Manchester City.

It was believed that their owners took money out and put it in.

There is always a business angle, and Sheikh Mansour has been quite successful on this basis.

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