If the purchase of Robinho late in the Summer transfer window was not a clear enough sign of the intent of the Abu Dhabi United Group, then the £100 million move for AC Milan’s Brazilian star Kaka is a clear signal that the new Manchester City owners are determined to force in English and European football. But what does that mean for the Premier League?
The most visible impact of Manchester City’s newfound riches is in the transfer market. Now clubs have a price for Manchester City and a price for everyone else. To their credit it appears that City are very much aware of this and are not afraid to walk away when a price they are being quoted is much higher than for any other buyer. For example Roque Santa Cruz is a nice player but he is not worth the £25 million that Blackburn are looking for. David Villa is a nice player but the traditional price for him has been between £20-30 million, not the reported £90 million that Valencia wants for him. Just like Roman Abramovich drove up prices in the transfer market several years ago when he took over at Chelsea, Man City will drive up prices for everyone else for the next several year.
To attract players to Eastlands, Manchester City are offering some fantastic wages, and you know that players and agents in the Premier League are paying close attention to this. If Wayne Bridge is earning £100, 000 a week you can be sure that Ashley Cole and Patrice Evra’s agents are well aware of that. If Kaka is making £500,000 a week, how long do you think that Ronaldo, Terry, Torres, etc will be happy making £100,000? This wage inflation could have a lasting impact on the Premier League as nobody but Manchester City can afford to have wages equal 75-80% of their revenue. With some many Premier League teams looking for new owners, this type of salary inflation could push some of them towards administration.
The goal of Manchester City is to be a regular participant in the Champions League, and this goal has huge financial implications for the big four. The Champions League is the best tournament in the world, and it is extremely lucrative for English teams, especially those who make it to the quarter finals and beyond. If Manchester City assembles a Champions League caliber team, them that means that one of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United will not be in the Champions league.
What does that mean for their finances and their ability to attract and retain their best players? Add in the threat from Martin O’Neil and his young Aston Villa team and you have the possibility that in the next three years two of the big four will not be in the Champions League. Will the UEFA Cup be a good alternative or will these teams have to start selling some of their players to make up any revenue shortfall?