Survival not enough for Man City - Wardle
Chairman John Wardle has claimed Barclays Premiership survival can no longer be viewed as a measure of success for Manchester City.
Wardle was reflecting on a year which saw profits and turnover rise even though City's poor on-field performance triggered a fall in both television money and the Premier League merit payment.
In branding the Blues 4-0 defeat at Wigan last weekend as 'an embarrassment' earlier this week, Wardle attempted to deflect the criticism away from manager Stuart Pearce.
But as Wardle looked back on the previous campaign, which went into freefall after March's FA Cup sixth round defeat to West Ham, the Pearce has been warned last season's 15th-placed finish was not good enough.
'Whilst Premiership survival remains an objective, it alone does not represent a successful season for Manchester City,' said Wardle.
'We finished in 15th place (last year), despite running a wage bill that should have seen us comfortably in the top half of the table.
'Our defeat against West Ham was an enormous blow, having been preceded by such high anticipation.
'The end to our season was exceptionally disappointing and contrasted dramatically with the final eight games of the previous season that had seen us unbeaten.'
Nevertheless, by maximising income from the City of Manchester stadium, which they have secured on a 250-year lease from Manchester City Council, the Blues were able to post a 1.5% increase in turnover to £61.8million, with profits up a massive 46% to £5.1million.
The encouraging figures have helped ease City's external debt to £32.2million, although a further £19million is still owed to Wardle and business partner David Makin.
Although Wardle has been attacked by some sections of the City support for failing to provide Pearce with adequate financial backing, the manager did spend £8.5million on new players during 2006, the majority of which went on Greek striker Georgios Samaras.
And, with a new, hugely-improved TV deal starting next season, Wardle is ready to offer Pearce even more cash during the January transfer window to ensure City remain a top-flight club for a fifth successive season.
'With the new TV deal commencing next season, we are all conscious of the importance of the current campaign,' Wardle said.
'We have already further invested in our wage bill, even though football has once again experienced wage inflation.
'And, while our financial position continues to improve, the board are aware that we need further investment to maintain our challenge in an increasingly-competitive and high-finance Premier League.'