HESTER City’s skirmish with Real Madrid tonight at the Santiago Bernabeu is more than just another big Champions League fixture; it is a clash of football’s financial titans.
The Group D rivals are among a select clutch of teams who rival each other for the cream of the world’s talent, along with Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea and, more recently, Paris Saint Germain.
Real, with their nine European Cups and dozens of Spanish league titles, boast the glamour factor, but what they lack in history City more than make up for in largesse, luring stars such as Carlos Tevez with unrivalled wages.
That strategy offers a clue to the main difference between the two clubs: while Real Madrid turn a profit, the Premier League title holders’ spending is bankrolled by Abu Dhabi petrobillions.
Real’s revenues have been unmatched in the sport for the last seven years, according to Deloitte’s Football Money League, and that seems certain to remain the case after it announced its latest results last week. The club increased revenue from €480m (£433m) to a new record €514m (£415m) for last season, although profit dipped from €32m (£29m) to €24m (£19m).
City, meanwhile, posted the biggest annual financial loss in English football history, of £195m, last year. That figure is forecast to improve to around £130m when the 2011-12 results are published.