Oil Royalty buys Manchester City

Change stadium name from Eastlands – to Middle Eastlands

The butt of many a joke only a matter of weeks ago as the full extent of Thaksin Shinawatra’s personal and financial problems emerged, Manchester City’s world has been turned on its head in the space of 24 mind-boggling hours as the former Prime Minister of Thailand sells the club to Arab royalty with wealth that dwarfs even that of Roman Abramovich. The arrival of Abramovich at Chelsea five years ago changed the landscape of English football, but the involvement of the ruling family of Abu Dhabi at City threatens to transcend even the enormity of the Russian’s achievements in West London.

Bankrolled by Abramovich’s millions, Chelsea won the league in the Russian’s second season at the club. Al-Fahim hopes for the same at City. “We are looking to make the same kind of impact at Manchester City that has happened at Chelsea in recent years,” Al-Fahim said. “That is what we want and we think it is achievable. The Premier League is a huge attraction for us. We looked at the likes of Arsenal and Newcastle United but we are very excited about becoming the new owners of Manchester City and have great ambitions.

“The target is to finish in the top four this season and then challenge for the Premier League title next year. We know that will require serious investment, but the bids we have already made for several players demonstrate how serious we are. We want to turn City into one of the biggest football clubs there is.”

Asked if the investors would be prepared to spend £200 million or more next summer to turn City into title challengers, Al-Fahim said: “Yes, if that is what it takes, we will do it.

Watching James Richardson – and terrific guests, last night, btw – we learned in the last hour of the transfer window that Manchester City won the instant bidding war for Robinho from Real Madrid, beating out Chelsea for £32.5 million.

Executive chairman, Garry Cook predicted great things for City. “Can we be as big, or bigger, than Manchester United? Yes. Can we win the Premier League? Yes. Can we win the Champions League? Yes. It might take 10 years, maybe even longer. But we will.” The new owners believe it will be even quicker. “We don’t have a lot of time,” said Fahim. “The money is not a worry for my board.”

He said the new owners would take an active role in the club and would attend City’s next game. That will be against Chelsea on September 13, when City’s supporters are planning to celebrate the new-found wealth by wearing Arab headgear.

Cripes. Brits are so much more cosmopolitan than my fellow sports fans, here in the States. Wearing Arab headgear to celebrate? More likely, fans of an American team sold to Gulf Oil Sheikhs would call for a Congressional investigation and federal intervention to prevent the sale.

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