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Manchester City are about to close gap on Liverpool after £80m FSG move

Manchester City are aiming to follow Liverpool’s lead in extending the capacity of their stadium to 60,000.


The Reds are in the middle of the redevelopment of the Anfield Road End, with the completion of the work in time for the start of the 2023/24 season seeing the capacity of Anfield raised to 61,000 with the addition of another 7,000 seats to help satisfy the enormous demand for tickets for Liverpool games.


With matchday revenues at Anfield set to push £90m for the 2021/22 financial year, which closed at the end of May for Liverpool and included a season where supporters returned in their numbers post pandemic, the redevelopment is likely to see matchday revenues pushed to around the £100m mark when the stand is fully operational, a boost that will likely be seen in the 2023/24 accounts.


For Manchester City, a club whose heavy spend in the early days of the City Football Group (CFG) reign, prior to the introduction of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play, enabled them to close the gap with the biggest clubs and then surpass them, have been on the radar of European football’s governing body when it comes to their finances in recent years, with UEFA charging them with FFP breaches in 2019 for allegedly inflating sponsorship deals only for that to be overturned at the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the basis of a lack of evidence.


City’s success on the pitch has afforded them large sums in prize money and, like Liverpool, they have been successful in leveraging that into greater revenue streams.


CFG have been willing spenders in the market, the £100m acquisition of Jack Grealish and addition of Erling Haaland evidence of that, but in order to keep spending at a high level they need to continue generating revenues to sustain that, something that has lead them to give the green light to a plan that has been in the works since 2013.


It comes on the back of increased season ticket sales that mean that 99 per cent capacity over the coming season, with CFG having stated in the past that they would only consider the expansion of the stadium if they were able to fill the ground due to additional demand. That now appears to be the case.


There is no set time-frame in which the work needs to be completed and the Mail suggests that with the construction of the multi-million development of the Co-op Live Arena next door ongoing, City are keen to wait until the culmination of that project, set for December 2023.


Manchester City hope to use the new Co-op Live Arena as a springboard to turn the Etihad Stadium campus into a year-round venue, delivering revenues through not only matchdays but also through external events such as music concerts or the hosting of other sporting events, like Tottenham Hotspur have been able to do with the staging of NFL games and West Ham United with Major League Baseball.


Liverpool, whose owners FSG opened their own live music arena adjacent to Fenway Park in Boston, have similar plans to increase revenue that way themselves. The additional capacity that the Anfield Road End redevelopment will bring will aid that cause.


For Manchester City, now that there is the strength of demand, there is the chance increase revenue streams through expansion to help their on-field spending and ensure that they are sufficiently backing up spend with revenue growth.


Manchester City are forecast to post around £57m in matchday revenues for the 2021/22 financial year according to insights provided by analysts at sports business website Off The Pitch. Raising those levels up considerably will be key to their continued spend, with City trailing behind Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Chelsea when it comes to matchday revenues, the lowest of the ‘big six’.


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