Unleashing Business Potential

The Impact of ADUG's Involvement in Manchester City Football Club and Beyond

Between 9-11 June, we have perhaps witnessed the most extraordinary collection of sporting achievements & records in modern history. We saw 3 world records at the Paris Diamond League athletics meet, the 100th running of the Le Mans 24h with Ferrari winning after a 50-year absence, Novak Djokovic winning his 23rd Grand Slam, more than any man in history & of course, Manchester City (MCFC) winning the Champions League thus completing the prized ‘treble’.

Staying on football, whether a fan of MCFC or not, most of us have noticed the brand of Etihad Airways gracing the club’s shirts for many years, and is a hint to the Abu Dhabi located ownership of the club since 2008. Specifically, ADUG (Abu Dhabi United Group for Development & Investment) owns this jewel in the crown along with a global jigsaw of clubs such as New York City FC, Mumbai City FC and Melbourne FC.

Abu Dhabi’s interests in MCFC are managed in a vehicle called City Football Group with great skill and patience by Khaldoon Al Mubarak & it is the motivations, approach & results achieved by the holding company that we want to talk about with you for a few minutes.

Western media reports often talk of reputation washing by Gulf located investors when entering high-profile sports franchises or brands. In fact, we suggest that MCFC reputation on and off the field has been burnished in large part because of ADUG involvement and not in spite of them! Many confuse the pace of development over the last 30 years in the UAE as a sign of impatience and therefore could be forgiven for thinking that ADUG wouldn’t prove a partner for all seasons. Instead, 15 years in, the club has dealt with all manner of success and challenge with a never a hint of disaffection or a desire by its owner to depart.  

On the contrary, from our many years in the region, we see so many examples of GCC members setting sail on an authentically long-term programme of economic diversification at home and abroad. Alongside this, not least to address the region’s poor health statistics, we will continue to see significant expansion of the sporting portfolio owned in the Middle East. In recent years Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have all financed pro sports from cycling to football to sailing and launched public health initiatives the envy of the West.     

So, we find ourselves back where we started this blog, in the back streets of Manchester, England. Financially, the club doesn’t carry a vast debt pile like so many of its opposition & whilst financial fair play rules in England prove a challenge to all the top clubs, MCFC finances are practically peerless. Its owners have also ploughed a conservative $1bn into local post industrial infrastructure & when we think about the ROI for the owner, let’s remind ourselves of the basic metrics: bought for $200m & after investments of c$2bn, the current valuation could be reliably predicted to be >$6bn…               

We can conclude by reassuring our European, North American & Asian funds and entrepreneurs that not only can they benefit from the financial might of the region, they just might gain a multi-generational motivated and supportive business partner that can open doors far beyond even money! To find out more about how your fund or firm can enter the region with our help, please download our blueprint or book a call.