Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Chairman
Ten years after winning our first Premier League title, we clinched our sixth – in the same thrilling circumstances – in the final minutes of the last game of the season. This time against Aston Villa.
These amazing and historic moments – and everything that has happened between them – are borne from the same organisational philosophy and passion for success, and an ever-evolving approach to how both are manifested.
In 2008, we gave ourselves the target of exceeding the benchmarks that had been set by others within football; and in doing so, to also exceed the new standards that we believed leading clubs would achieve in the time it would take us to catch-up.
Our aim was clear – to one day be the Club that set the benchmark for others.
The statistics and results show that in many ways we are beginning to achieve our long-term ambition. As the 2021-22 season ended, our men’s team, under Pep Guardiola’s stewardship, lifted the Premier League trophy for the fourth time in five years; our youth teams won the U18 league titles and the Premier League 2 for the second successive year. A clean sweep of Premier League titles two years in a row. In addition, our women’s team qualified for the Champions League for the seventh successive season. Over the summer, seven City players went on to lift the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 trophy.
Important off-field metrics also gave us the right indications. Our motivation to place the COVID-19 pandemic firmly behind us helped our talented people achieve the most successful financial year in the Club’s history; the best players in world football are making us their destination of choice; our player trading was executed with great skill and positive financial outcomes, and our commercial partnerships continued to deepen and expand by geography and sector.
But football does not stand still and other leading clubs continue to evolve and develop. We therefore need to constantly challenge ourselves to improve upon what we have achieved. This means innovating further in Manchester and beyond. Reimagining ourselves and how we move forward in Manchester and through City Football Group (CFG), the industry-leading, multi-club organisation that Manchester City sits at the heart of.
If we are to be true to the efforts of all of those people that have contributed over the last 14 years to deliver our current successes, we must challenge ourselves to question everything we accept as optimal, and to define new and unprecedented goals and the right strategies to achieve them.
This is the task that Sheikh Mansour, our shareholders, the Board and I have set our management team. In doing so we recognise the fundamental truth that continuously delivering football success for our fans will also continue to create value for our shareholders.
The City Football Academy (CFA) is an obvious example of that marriage between football success and value creation. Since it opened in 2014, season after season, the CFA has consistently developed players that can thrive in the most competitive leagues in the world.
The Academy players who became regulars in City’s first team this year are simply the tip of the iceberg: since 2011-12 almost 200 Academy graduates have gone on to have active professional careers in the Premier League, lower English leagues or in the main European leagues.
Across all of our teams, we have been very deliberate about maintaining high-quality squads and infusing the talent developed locally in our Academy with exciting players from around the world.
As we continue to build on the 2021-22 report and successes, we were delighted that Norwegian international Erling Haaland decided to join the Club this summer, continuing the legacy his father Alfie started with us in the early-2000s.
As we said hello to new, exciting talents, we also said goodbye to legends of the game in Fernandinho, Jill Scott and Karen Bardsley.
Three players that were not only instrumental in bringing success on the pitch for more than eight years, but who also mentored young players and had an active role in our community work in Manchester and further afield.
Their contribution to the growth and success of City will never be forgotten. They brought to life the aims and targets we set. They were amongst the first to invest their talents and trust into the grand plans we had – and as such they will always be part of the City family.
This year we also celebrated the tenth anniversary of Sergio Agüero’s iconic goal against QPR that brought us our first Premier League title. This gave us the opportunity to honour his accomplishments and we unveiled a statue in celebration of his achievements. His likeness rightly joined those of Vincent Kompany and David Silva outside the Etihad Stadium.
Sergio’s contribution to City in a defining era for the Club cannot be overstated. He is without doubt one of the greatest players that has ever played the game.
CFG also continued its forward momentum this year. In Manchester, CFG is a partner in Co-Op Live, a multi-purpose, entertainment arena due to open in 2023 on the Etihad Campus.
This will be the largest UK indoor arena and will play a pivotal role in CFG’s ambitions to develop the Etihad Campus as a global sport, leisure and entertainment destination, as well as being a significant source of community, employment and economic opportunity for Manchester.
Elsewhere, Melbourne City FC and New York City FC won their respective leagues in Australia and the USA and, in Spain, Girona was promoted into La Liga – with all teams across the group playing in the distinctive, possession-based, attacking style that is now part of our DNA.
Finally, I cannot talk about the City DNA without mentioning Mike Summerbee, our ‘Buzzer’.
Heartfelt congratulations go to Mike, who was awarded an OBE this year in recognition of his selfless and enduring commitment to this Club and the many charitable causes he supports. It is such richly deserved recognition for his immense contribution to the game both as a player and as an ambassador.
As we reflect on the 2021-22 season, I do so with immense pride in the work and commitment of all of our City family, that has allowed us to emerge from the pandemic with strong finances and further on-pitch successes.
Our new signings and Academy graduates promise even more exciting times ahead. We should feel uplifted by the collective achievements of so many and look to the future with anticipation, knowing our Club is committed to accomplish so much more.