City cannot count on rising income to offset record losses

Turnover at Eastlands set to lag far behind 'Big Four' as Vieira is added to wage bill
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Manchester City, who confirmed the signing of Patrick Vieira from Internazionale on a sixth-month deal last night, do not expect their income to rise above Tottenham's £113m in the current financial year as they seek to offset their colossal transfer market activity. The expected level of growth helps explain Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan's demands that the club reap the riches of Champions League football next season.

Vieira is likely to become yet another player commanding more than £100,000 a week, further reinforcing City's need to match their levels of investment with rapid success.

The club's turnover in the next financial year is unlikely to exceed £110m, which would be a 20 per cent increase on the £87m that left the club with losses of £93m in the eight months to May last year. In addition, the summer's £119m outlay on Gareth Barry, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Touré, Roque Santa Cruz, Joleon Lescott and Carlos Tevez is still to account for. Even a £110m turnover figure would leave the club earning only half of the £225m Arsenal earn (when the north London club's substantial property arm is stripped out) and facing a sizeable challenge just to reap in overall revenues comparable to the £100m Arsène Wenger's club collect in matchday income alone.

Spurs will remain ahead of City for some time yet as the fifth most lucrative club in terms of income, with the established top four well clear of all the rest.

City have not put a timeframe on when they might break even but the short-term earning expectations reveal just why Sheikh Mansour was so frustrated with the rate of progress under Mark Hughes, whose successor Roberto Mancini immediately announced that City were targeting a top-four place. City claim that they considered the 70-point target they had set Hughes for this season to be commensurate with a top-four finish, and the earning potential of the Champions League makes it easy to see why Abu Dhabi does not consider the Europa League to be good enough in the next campaign.

Qualifying for the group stage of the Champions League would secure around £12m for the club, including prize money, while Liverpool earned £23m by progressing to the quarter-finals last year. That kind of income would enable City to double their entire predicted increase in turnover. Winning the tournament will reap a club around £70m. City's owners are quite aware that elite European football provides a money-making dimension above all others. It certainly dwarfs the potential of growing matchday revenues, though City have sold out their last five home games and average attendances are up 3,000.

City have tied up a number of lucrative sponsorship deals over the past year though the financial results released on Tuesday suggest their wage bill is now second only to Chelsea's at around £80m-90m. Wage levels tend to dictate clubs' finishing positions in the Premier League.

Vieira, who underwent a medical at around 4pm yesterday, clearly expects to be a regular starter at Eastlands. Mancini signed the former Arsenal captain while in charge at Inter during 2006 and the former France captain now aims to cement his place in the country's World Cup squad. "I want to go to the World Cup and I need playing time," he said yesterday. "It's over, after a year in Turin and three and a half years in Milan, I have objectives and I can't achieve them by staying at Inter where I'm not part of the coach's choice.

"What's important for me is to go to Manchester City, to show the coach that I am the same as I was during the period when he was at Inter. All this will help me get into the France team."

The short-term nature of the deal illustrates that Mancini is seeking no guarantees that Vieira is capable of more than seeing City through to the end of the season.

Internazionale president Massimo Moratti suggested yesterday there would be no more departures from his club, though defender Ivan Cordoba is known to be in Mancini's sights. Suggestions that Rubin Kazan defender Cristian Ansaldi might be on his way to City seem wide of the mark.


City's losses in eight months to last May.