Manchester City: Is Ferran Soriano the right man for City?

On Saturday, Ferran Soriano – ex Barcelona CEO – took office at his new club Manchester City. Soriano is often credited with the turnaround in finances at Barcelona and turning them from a side that hadn’t won the Spanish title in 4 years and the European Cup in 11 years into a successful side on and off the pitch in the form of a global brand to match those of Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Soriano replaces Garry Cook as Chief Executive Officer, who resigned in September 2011 over allegations that Cook had sent offensive e-mails about Nedum Onuoha’s mother.

Despite a mistake ridden spell at City, including introducing a player into the “Manchester United” hall of fame rather than “Manchester City” and the rather public humiliation of the Kaka deal in January 2009, Cook was hugely influencial in turning around Manchester City’s fortunes.

He was the man responsible for the £400m sponsorship deal to rename the City of Manchester Stadium and the surrounding area which puts Manchester City in a good position to comply with UEFA’s controversial Financial Fair Play rules, something that Ferran Soriano has evidently been brought in to work upon.

Between 2003 and 2008, Soriano increased revenues from €123m to €308m and a €73m loss to an €88m profit. However, Javier Faus – Barcelona’s current treasurer – revealed upon his appointment that under the previous regime, an audit which announced a €9m profit was actually an €80m loss. Nevertheless, the figures that represent the turnaround in club finances is certainly impressive.

While Soriano can improve Manchester City’s financial turnover, he has an excellent commercial reputation. Soriano also has brokered partnership deals with Nike, Coca-Cola and other top name brands.

However, his most reputable deal throughout his tenure at Barcelona was the deal for the charity “Unicef’ to become the club sponsors, a first deal of its kind in European football. “Unicef” received €30m per year from the deal and gave Barcelona global outreach to the continent of Africa which Soriano described as “a stroke of genius” in his 2008 book, “The Ball Doesn’t Go In by Fate: Management Ideas in the World of Football”.

Soriano is well known throughout football, having also sat upon the G-14 committee and has dealt with many of the world’s top agents such as Jorge Mendes, Jose Mourinho’s agent who tried to get Mourinho the Barca job in 2007. Soriano at the time did not feel Mourinho was a good fit for Barcelona and subsequently appointed Pep Guardiola as Barcelona manager. A decision in hindsight which was incredibly successful.

Barcelona definitely are an easier brand to sell than Manchester City, but Soriano has been appointed to change that and launch Manchester City into becoming one of the leading brands in world football.

On the pitch, City are certainly closer than Barcelona were in 2003 to winning the Champions League and having won the Premier League only the season before Soriano’s appointment. Off the pitch, Soriano has a challenge ahead, especially with the Financial Fair Play rules coming into play.

Can Soriano change Manchester City’s financial fortunes? Turning them from a club that in 2010-11 has a loss of £192m to a club that produces profit is a massive challenge but City are convinced that Soriano is the right man to achieve it.


Written by Henry Francis

Follow him on Twitter @TheHenryFrancis

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