Tuesday 2 September ~

There was a time when the natural enemy of the (often rightly) paranoid football fan was the self-serving businessman, coming in and treating your football club as a means to fill his own pockets. But whatever fans thought of Ken Bates or Peter Swales in the 1990s, at least these people worked to a business logic, however warped. Within 12 hours of taking over Manchester City yesterday new owners the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) showed they haven't got time for such frippery as balancing the books and building a strong base for the future of the club. Instead their actions so far seem to be based on little more than that of a spoilt child, motivated solely by making their peers jealous. In the end they only managed to scupper Chelsea’s bid for Robinho, but they came very close to doing the same for Manchester United’s move for Dimitar Berbatov. Why? To endear themselves to fans like a desperate parent appeasing a child in the easiest way possible, with presents.

In January, expect a raft of expensive big name signings heading to Eastlands ("Imagine Chelsea, then times it by at least ten," a source was quoted as saying the Guardian today, a concept that surely doesn’t just terrify Shaun Wright-Phillips) but in the long-term who knows what awaits City? Chief executive Garry Cook seems understandably positive: “Can we win the Champions League? Yes. It might take ten years, maybe even longer. But we will.” Of more worry to City fans will be the words of ADUG frontman Sulaiman al-Fahim: “We don't have a lot of time. The money is not a worry for my board.” Why don’t they have much time, and what will happen if it runs out?

As part of my job I spent the hours from 7.30pm to 12.30am last night watching the rolling transfer news on Sky Sports News to cover developments for a news website. Obviously I wasn’t naive enough to expect a balanced discussion of how yesterday’s news would affect the direction of English football, but it was still painful watching the most ostentatious celebration of wealth, greed and soulless dealing since Dallas.

The breathless adoration on the faces of the anchors and their assorted stooges around the county injected events with a meaningless frenzy as they attempted to convince viewers we were witnessing history. “Phone in work and tell them you will be late, this is going to be a late one,” shouted one pompous chump as if anchoring general election night before another described the moment he read City had had their bid for Robinho accepted with the words “the hairs stood up on the back of my neck”. Which is interesting, as watching last night I have never felt so emotionally removed from football. Josh Widdicombe

Comments (6)
Comment by Johnny Suave 2008-09-02 13:03:02

Top level football has become a very odd thing. The game has been taken out of it for sure. So, it's not a game, some people call it a business, but they're all rubbish at that, so it can't be a business. So what is football then? A show? A monopoly? A virtual world with real 'people?

I don't know, but it's crap whatever it is

Comment by ursus arctos 2008-09-02 14:16:23

The FT is reporting that Thaksin more than doubled his money in a little bit more than a year; not a bad piece of business at all.

Comment by Mr Beast 2008-09-02 15:18:16

Thaksin doubled his money. Are you sure you mean HIS money?

Comment by Nurse Duckett 2008-09-02 20:14:02

Totally agree with this article. I too couldn't believe the excited look on the newsreader's face (ITV News I think it was) - do these people really think this is GOOD for English football?

Comment by loppy 2008-09-03 00:17:42

sky sports news was compulsive viewing not only for the way the little actual news coming in (and back to old trafford for the 17th time this half hour - any news on berbatov? Is it confirmed? - no but a blind has been shut and we have seen a secretery walking along a corridor" was enthusiastically reported, but the up to date man with phone in the studio claiming to be receiving texts from unhappy players around the country who were really unhappy that they're club wasn't signing superstars (presumably not any fringe forwards in the Manchester region). My main gripe though was the quite blatently obvious law breaking by Msn Utd. The rules regarding transfers are quite clear you cannot talk to a player contracted to another club without that clubs permission. Sky was constantly repeating that Tottenham had only given permission to speak to City, yet there was Dimitar shakin Fergues hand. Yet all gets forgiven with a Fraizer Campbell loan deal. The FA must investigate independently and punish properly or accept they have no control of the richest clubs.

Comment by ian.64 2008-09-03 07:07:29

You know the rules. They go like this:

The Big Four transgress any law regarding transfers, conduct, etc.

The FA response: "Er...a fine of £100, won't do it again now, will you? You wont'?....Oh, that's don't do it again or...(points trembling finger)...we'll shout very loudly indeed. Yes, we'll...get really vexed..and..and irritable...yes....that's...that's right...."

A lower league club transgress any law regarding transfers, conduct, etc.

The FA response: "OH! P*SSANT LITTLE CLUB, EH? You wanna play TOUGH, eh? THINK you're the COCK OF THE F*CKING WALK, DO YER? WELL! Today's the day, my friends, because this is the FA YOU'RE DEALING WITH, not some TUPPENNY HA'PENNY BUNCHA MILQUETOASTS! How's about THIS, cockroaches - we're gonna FINE ya till yer BUM FALLS OFF and then, BECAUSE WE DON'T TOLERATE SCUM LIKE YOU DESTROYING THE BEAUTIFUL GAME, we're gonna deduct 30 POINTS OFF YA BEFORE THE START OF ThE SEASON, not just this forthcoming one, YOU SLIME, but FOR THE NEXT SEVEN SEASONS! HOW DO YA LIKE THEM APPLES! HA HA HA HA HA HA! Let that be A LESSON TO YA! 'Cause no one BUT NO ONE MESSES WITH THE FA AND GETS AWAY WITH IT! NO ONE!"

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