The transformation of Manchester City under the ownership of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan has never been anything other than a long-term project. We have set ambitious goals and achieved many of them faster than expected in the last eight years, but we have never underestimated the scale of the undertaking. I believe that the 2015-16 season marked the end of another important phase in that journey and the beginning of the next exciting chapter.
On the pitch, results were uneven. The Club won the Capital One Cup and progressed further than ever in the UEFA Champions League, reaching the semi-finals for the first time. We also secured a top four finish in the Barclays Premier League. That is a highly respectable season but it does not represent the sum of our ambitions today. The Premier League result in particular was squarely below expectations.
It is a reflection of how far we have come that Manchester City now enters each season with the realistic goals of winning the league, bringing home a domestic cup, and competing for European honours. That is a tall order for any first team squad, but it is also the reality of where we stand in football terms in 2016. With that in mind, I would like to recognise our former manager, Manuel Pellegrini, for the significant contributions that he made to the Club. He firmly established Manchester City as a genuine threat in European football and in doing so displayed both ambition and professionalism throughout his time with us. His achievements, including a Premier League title and two League Cups in three years, speak for themselves and will not be forgotten.
Manchester City has now reached a level of sporting and commercial maturity that allows one to feed the other
The commitment to football excellence at Manchester City extends well beyond our first team. Results at Youth level were particularly promising this year, with our Academy teams winning a record number of titles across all age groups, and our U16s scoring more than 100 goals in an unbeaten season. Manchester City Women also qualified for the Champions League for the first time. Training at the landmark City Football Academy provides all of our players and coaches with in-house access to world-class facilities and expertise, and provides them with the best possible chance of performing at their highest level each week.
It has always been our view that sporting success and commercial sustainability must go hand-in-hand. On that basis, Manchester City has delivered a bottom line profit of £20.5 million in 2015-16, increased its revenues for the eighth year in succession, and continued to operate with zero financial debt. The City Football Group – which owns Manchester City, New York City FC and Melbourne City FC – was proud to announce a US$400 million investment in December 2015 from a consortium led by China Media Capital Holdings, which valued the Group at US$3 billion.
Importantly, Manchester City has now reached a level of sporting and commercial maturity that allows one to feed the other. That is the vision for success and sustainability that we have been working towards since 2008 under the guidance of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and its achievement represents another important breakthrough in the long-term development of the Club.
As Manchester City has expanded its international profile, it has never lost touch with its roots. Our supporters can take much of the credit for that. City fans were consulted directly on a series of changes resulting from the expansion of the Etihad Stadium to a capacity of 55,000 and were instrumental in making the project a success. Supporters also had a significant influence on the need to return the club badge to a more authentic design. Manchester City now has a modern crest that is more aligned with the Club’s proud history and heritage. Our connection with fans and the people of Manchester was once again no better exemplified than in the City in the Community programmes that reached more than 35,000 people in Greater Manchester in 2015-16.
I believe the 2016-17 season represents the beginning of a critical new phase in the evolution of Manchester City. We know that we have the playing, coaching and off-field capabilities at our disposal to achieve great things in English and European football in the years ahead. In our new manager, Pep Guardiola, we have recruited a proven winner with an innate ability to identify, nurture and develop young talent. At the landmark City Football Academy, we have one of the world’s most elite facilities for football training and development on our doorstep. All of this raises expectations and adds pressure on us all, but nobody expects more from Manchester City than those of us involved with and supporting our Club.
Living up to these expectations in all we do is the challenge that lies ahead of us as an organisation and as a team. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our employees, commercial partners and supporters for their dedication and contributions in 2015-16. I also want to wish each of you the best for the season ahead. It remains a unique privilege to be a part of this exciting journey as we reach towards the next important milestone in the evolution of Manchester City.
Khaldoon Al Mubarak