Manchester City have announced a loss of £52m for the year to 31 May 2013, a reduction from the £98m loss made by the club the previous year when winning the Premier League. City's wage bill increased during 2012-13, to £233m, but the loss was lower because the club increased its income to a record £271m.
City's annual report reveals the extraordinary sums invested in the club by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the senior member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family, since he bought City in August 2008. In those five years, City have spent £712m on transfer fees alone, including last summer's £102m outlay on five new players. City state their net spend, after money received from selling players between 2008 and 2013, was £582m.
The accounts show Sheikh Mansour had paid almost exactly £1bn into City since his 2008 takeover, including £190m last year. Total losses made to 31 May 2013 were £559m, which Sheikh Mansour's money has bankrolled.
City's £233m wage bill in 2012-13 was 86% of the club's total income, similar to the 87% in 2011-12.
The £52m loss is by far City's lowest of any year since the takeover, due to the £271m income. City's matchday and TV income were similar to 2011-12, but other commercial income, principally from sponsorship by the Abu Dhabi airline Etihad, and other Abu Dhabi and international sponsors, rose from £107m in 2011-12 to £143m. City's income also included £47m from selling "intellectual property", including £22m-worth to related City companies. These sales were not explained further in the accounts.
Directors of the club, chaired by the senior Abu Dhabi business and political executive Khaldoon al-Mubarak, have always believed increased income from making the team successful on the pitch will eventually balance the losses made by investing in the players needed to do so. The report highlights the new academy being built alongside the Etihad Stadium and due to open this summer, regarded as key to cutting the reliance on ready-made stars.
The venture into US Major League Soccer, with New York City, and a recent acquisition of Australian club Melbourne Heart, are parts of a strategy forged by the chief executive, Ferran Soriano, of making more use of the club's resources, while building a commercial presence in those two countries and regions.
City believe that despite the losses, £150m in 2011-12 and 2012-13, they will comply with Uefa's "financial fair play" rule, which limits total losses to €45m (£37m). City expect to rely on an exemption for wages of players signed before 2010, and for Uefa to look favourably on the loss coming down.
Soriano said when releasing the accounts: "Growing revenues and controlled expenses are bringing the club to break even in the immediate future, and profitability thereafter."