Guardiola Faces Toughest Challenge Despite Biggest Budget


Today the worst kept secret in football finally came to light, at least in an official sense: Pep Guardiola will be the new manager of Manchester City, starting in the 2016/17 campaign. Although this news barely classifies as ‘news’, it does pose some debate about the Premier League’s increasing pull on the world of club football.

The latest television deal has changed the landscape for the current Premier League incarnation. It has played a far greater significance for teams from 7th and below, while for teams above it has hindered their ability to prise Europe’s talent to their sides if anything.

Although the current deal has not played a direct part in Manchester City’s ability to prise Guardiola from Munich to Manchester, it is just once further example of England’s top flight becoming by far and away the financial magnet for the world’s elite football figures.

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The present TV deal — SKY and BT Sport just in the UK pay a record £5.136 billion for live Premier League TV rights for the 2016-17 season. Last year as title winners, Chelsea earned £98.99 million while last season’s bottom club, Queens Park Rangers, were awarded £64.8m.

It is likely that the team that finishes 20th next season will pocket £99m next season while those at the top of the table will pocket more than £150m in prize money. This will be the effect of the next television contract, which will generate more than £5 billion for the Premier League.

Every year in February, the accountancy firm Deloitte publishes a list of the biggest earning clubs in the game. This year, England had 14 in the top 30. After 2017, perhaps all 20 Premier League teams could end up in this elite group of wealth.

Incidentally for Guardiola is that although he will have never had such a budget for transfer as he will at Man City, he’ll also face the greatest competition. At Barcelona they were by far the best side, but pivotally the television rights deal in La Liga means clubs can negotiate their own – and thus earn far more than the smaller clubs, whereas in England it’s more equally spread out.

In Germany there is a similar set up, and regardless Bayern Munich’s revenue shadows over all other clubs. At Manchester City he’ll face mid-table teams of the quality of top-four challengers in La Liga and the Bundesliga. The truth here has been skewed by the fact the top four in the Premier League have regressed. But that looks more an anomaly than indicative of a long-term shift.

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Both Manchester Clubs happen to be set to transition to a new manager, while the holders Chelsea have displayed the greatest drop-off seen in decades. In two seasons now it is likely that trio will have got their act together, while the mid-table clubs will continue to spend relatively large amounts, further increasing the competition for Guardiola and co.

Guardiola is the game’s most coveted coach with a history of claiming the top prizes. The combination of the charismatic Catalan’s coaching brilliance and the financial backing he will receive makes this a partnership the rest of football world could come to fear.

What Guardiola must respect if not fear however, is the reality of a far more competitive football landscape than he’s ever faced previously.