Could UK government now target Manchester City owner?
A British politician has made accusations against the Premier League club's owner, Sheikh Mansour, with links to Vladimir Putin and Syria's Bassar al-Asaad.
Chelsea's Roman Abramovich was unlikely to be the only casualty given the way ownership of football clubs in England has changed in recent years. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to have an impact on the Premier League, with the latest chapter involving Manchester City's owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates met last week with his counterpart Bassar al-Asaad, president of Syria and ally of Vladimir Putin.
Man City owner under spotlight
That meeting has been directly condemned by British Labour politician, Chris Bryant, as well as a senior branch of the UK government. The US had already singled out the Syrian president, accused of "horrible atrocities". As a result of their encounter, Bryant, who is also chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Russia, addressed the House of Commons and questioned if the City owner was a “fit and proper person to be owning a football club," adding that it would be “good to see the back of him."
“What is it that people don’t get?" he said. "There’s been a form of barbarous, sustained murder going on in Syria, run jointly by Assad, and now Putin is doing exactly the same in a barbaric war of aggression against innocent sovereign Ukraine.
“And some people want to meet up with the bully boys?”
These comments came following those from a spokesperson for the government's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, which was critical of Assad’s visit to the UAE.
“It is the UK’s firm belief that, in the absence of a change in behaviour by the Syrian regime, strengthening ties undermines the prospect of a lasting and inclusive peace in Syria.”
Allegiances due to huge economic and political interests are being stretched for the first time due to the barbaric nature of Putin's assault on the Ukrainian people. How much it will take for finances to be put behind humanitarian responsibilities only time will tell.
Man City top Deloitte Football Money League
The latest news comes just a day after the reigning Premier League champions became only the fourth club ever to top the Deloitte rich list, which examines the top-performing football clubs in terms of revenue every year.
City's revenue of £571.1million (€644.9m) over 2020-21 saw them climb from sixth to first for 2022. Their annual figure has grown by nearly 45 times since the first year of the Money League covering the 1996-97 season.
Real Madrid (€640.7m) came second and Bayern Munich (€611.4m) were third and were the only two clubs to generate more than €600m of revenue in both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years.
Barcelona and Man Utd fall
Barcelona (€582.1m) fell to fourth, with Manchester United (€558m) in fifth, the lowest position they have ever occupied. Paris Saint-Germain (€556.2m), Liverpool (€550.4m), Chelsea (€493.1m), Juventus (€433.5m) and Tottenham (€406.2m) completed the top 10.
Premier League clubs dominate the higher rankings, with 11 teams from England's top flight in the top 20, including Wolves for the first time.
Matchday revenues across the leagues fell to an all-time low of €111m, or one per cent of the clubs' total revenue, due to the impact of playing behind-closed-door matches during the heigh of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe.
Broadcast revenue increased by €1.4billion from 2019-20, but that was largely put down to the distribution of funds being deferred after domestic competitions were put on hold and then completed later in the year.
In total, the clubs in the Money League generated €8.2bn in revenue, an increase of less than one per cent on 2019-20 and more than €1bn lower than in 2018-19.
"Money League clubs have missed out on well over €2bn of revenue over the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons as a result of covid-19," Deloitte said.