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City’s saga continues

City’s saga continues

Manchester City’s saga turned ugly as Robinho’s desertion prompted more criticism for the club. We’re guessing that this isn’t the sort of publicity club chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak was hoping for

January 25, 2009 1:49 by

When Abu Dhabi United Group’s frontman, Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim, first spoke to the public about the acquisition of Manchester City, observers didn’t know what to make of the suggestion that the club’s new owner has “deep pockets.” They also questioned the owner’s assertions that the ailing club would one day be one of the world’s best team, and “to reach that goal there is no limit,” said Al Fahim.

Recent events prove that, contrary to Al Fahim’s claims, to reach that goal there are plenty of limits.

A report in Sky Sports states that Robinho, a Brazilian footballer Manchester City acquired for £32.75 million (AED164 million) in 2008, abandoned the club’s Tenerife training ground last week and flew to Brazil amid rumors of his dissatisfaction with the club’s management. Some claim his move was instigated by the club’s humiliating attempt at negotiating a deal to buy Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite (aka Kaka) from AC Milan, which is owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Kaka rejected the deal, prompting a spate of public bad-mouthing from City’s executive chairman Garry Cook. “This [deal] broke down for all the wrong reasons,” said Cook. “I think it was a bit too sophisticated for Milan, They bottled it.”

Kaka responded to Cook’s comments with more insults: “There was a total confusion. Not one of them had a clear idea of what was going on. I have taken a weight off my mind.”

City’s offer to buy Kaka for £91 million (AED456 million) generated negative press for the club: many felt City was throwing money around without merit. And when the incident with Robinho became public, they began to feel that City is in over its head.

An entry by Paul Wilson in The Sports Blog, published by The Guardian, best explains football fans’ sentiments:

“Much has been made of City wanting to run before they can walk, or put up the roof before the walls are finished, and merely hurling heaps of money at already established superstars is bound to bring difficulties of its own, as the club is beginning to discover with Robinho. Anyone can see the slapstick potential and one wonders why the outwardly intelligent people running City cannot see it themselves. The answer may be that the manager and the executive chairman are pursuing radically different agendas.”

It isn’t good publicity for the club; it’s even worse publicity given that those associated with the new management prove skeptics who doubt the owner’s appreciation for the sport right repeatedly: on January 22, Arabian Business reported that Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim, who chairs Falcon Equity, and Holger Heims, who runs Falcon Equity, are preparing a Chelsea takeover proposal. Heims said: “I don’t believe anything is ever not for sale if you come up with the right price. It’s not about trying to by a football team but about a business,” reported the business magazine.

“You don’t make money because 11 guys run around the pitch,” he added. “You make money because of all the other commercial aspects that go with the football clued, particularly real estate and television rights.”

Statements like that are unlikely to endear the club to the world’s already skeptical football fans. It says a lot about the owner’s approach to football…

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