The 2019-20 season marked our entry into the second decade of His Highness Sheikh Mansour’s stewardship of Manchester City. It was a season in which we brought home silverware in the form of the Community Shield and Carabao Cup, finished second in the Premier League and scored more than 100 goals.
It was also a season which saw us welcome new US investors, Silver Lake. Their incredible track record in sport, entertainment and technology investment together with their confidence in our business and ambition for the future, make them a perfect partner.
Whilst the trophies secured during the 2019-20 season are now the expected football hallmarks of a normal Manchester City campaign, they hide the far from normal reality that the whole world was plunged into in the early months of 2020.
The emergence of COVID-19 sent shockwaves around the world and rocked the foundations of many companies, especially those dependent on connecting directly with large numbers of people.
Like most organisations, we did not have a business strategy for a global pandemic. What we had, and still have, is a business that is fundamentally strong, with committed shareholders and with significant assets, built carefully over a decade and upon more than a century of history.
Over time, our income streams have been deliberately shifted and diversified – our fan base and audiences are global as well as local, our physical and digital infrastructure strategies are mature, and our commercial partnerships are diverse in terms of regions, industries and structures. Our long-term approach has meant that we are now not wholly dependent on those income streams that have been most vulnerable to the ongoing impact of COVID-19.
From a City Football Group perspective, we did not shy away from delivering on our plans and were also able to realise opportunities that might otherwise not have existed in an ‘ordinary’ year. This approach saw us make the geographically-significant deal to acquire Mumbai City FC and the strategic football acquisitions of clubs in Europe.
Whilst 2019-20 produced financial figures none of us expected, or wanted to see, the year needs to be viewed in the context of both of the seasons that will have ultimately been affected by the pandemic. The expectation of ourselves is that we will return to profitability in the second of those COVID seasons, the 2020-21 financial year. This is the outcome we are working towards and as such it is a testament to the ongoing commitment and hard work of everyone associated with the Club through the most challenging of times.
The efforts of our people are a source of great pride, as is the contribution that we have been able to make to our Manchester and global communities in direct response to the effects of the pandemic.
The pandemic overshadowed our ability to say a full farewell to David Silva and to properly celebrate his decade of contribution to Manchester City. I said at the time that the Premier League will never be the same after David and that he put his stamp on our team, on the history of the club and the Premier League. What David’s ten years of contribution also reminds us is that the short-term challenge of the current pandemic is exactly that – short term.
I very much look forward to the time when we welcome crowds back to the Etihad Stadium and are able to unveil the statue that recognises his immense contribution to our Club.
As we look forward to the pandemic receding, we can reflect on our many learnings – about our organisation, about our people, and about our community. Our evolution will continue with new insights and extraordinary confidence in our people.