Conversations with a city supporter 24 hours before takeover

September 2, 2008

You may remember Eric the blue from an earlier post. He was my sole window into the happenings at Manchester City Football Club. This year, by the way, he will be joined by Dominic who will offer another seasoned ticket-holder’s views.

It so happened that I bumped into Eric on Sunday, when all was relatively calm in the world of Manchester City. If you count as calm the situation of a club having an owner Thaksin Shinawatrafacing rather nasty criminal charges in Thailand.

“I think he’s in for the long term” I offered. Not meaning a prison sentence. I thought maybe Thaksin would prefer Manchester to non-optional accomodation at the pleasure of the Thai military.

“Maybe” said Eric, sounding less than convinced.

“Hughes has bought some good players” I added.

“Maybe”, said Eric, still less than enthusiastic.

“It could be worse. It’s worse for Gordon Brown, and the mayor of New Orleans”. (Hurricane Gustav was about to reach the gulf, and mayor Nagin had ordered a full evacuation of New Orleans).

I could have mentioned that it was getting worse for Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej of Thailand as well.

Can’t remember if Eric thought it was maybe better to be Mark Hughes or Mayor Ray Nagin

A new day dawns

A new day dawns. Sean Wright-Philips had returned to City from Chelsea, and had a happy debut scoring two goals at Sunderland
Overnight, the main football stories were around two big signings that were still hanging in the balance. Tottenham were holding out for last minute concessions from Manchester United over the sale of Dimitar Berbatov. Likewise Real Madrid over Robinho’s move to Chelsea. In organizational terms these were big deals by big players. The transfer window sets up conditions for last-minute barrow-boy stuff. The media plays its part in creating and distributing information in various lucrative ways. The information is utterly dubious for the most part.

Oh, Happy Day

Twenty fours later and Man city’s sporting destiny was turned upside-down. A well-concealed deal had been brokered. Thaksin had flogged the club (barring a little matter of due diligence) to Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) which would see the seriously wealthy Arab company taking a majority stake in the club.

Thaksin has cut a deal to become honorary chairman of the club and retain a minority shareholding. Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim of ADUG intends to turn City into a top-four Premiership club within three seasons.

We must be dreaming

The dream lives on. Hardly had the news of the takeover been announced, when Chelsea confirm they were close to signing the unsettled Robinho from Real Madrid.

Could it get better?

Yes it could. Hours later the news that Tottenham had been approached by City and accepted a deal for Berbatov. First wealth beyond reason. Then some of it immediately put to wondrous use, and screwing-up United’s plans as bonus.

The hoardings outside newsagents in Manchester read City: We are the richest club in the world

Dreams end at midnight

This one almost did. 1am Greenwich Mean Time to be precise, the deadline ending the summer transfer window. But despite the earlier news, what was this? Berbatov in defiance of the deal claimed by City and Tottenham was undergoing a medical at Old Trafford. With minutes to spare, news reports confirmed he had signed for …United.

The Dream Lives on

But cometh the dawn and the dream mostly lives on. The news Hoardings still say City is the richest club in the world. And Robinho was coming. For a British league transfer record fee of over £34 million.

Leadership lessons

Might the delaying tactics of Tottenham (towards Manchester United) and Real Madrid (towards Chelsea) be because both clubs were aware of the takeover plans at Manchester City?

Give me time to think. I need a new deadline on this one …


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