Manchester City’s new owners Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) showed the rest of the football world they mean business by snatching Real Madrid star Robinho from under the nose of rivals Chelsea for a British record transfer fee of £34m last night.
Earlier, ADUG revealed it had agreed a multi-million takeover with owner Thaksin Shinawatra. The former Thai prime minister met with consortium head Dr Sulaiman AlFahim on Sunday night to complete a £200m sign over the Premier League club. As part of the deal, Dr Al-Fahim promised to “solve all the club problems” and “clear any pending payments” as well as “bringing the best football players in the world” to the City of Manchester Stadium.
ADUG insists the deal gives it “all management rights” to the club, while Thaksin would become honorary president of the club, retaining a shareholding but “without administrative responsibilities”.
The club confirmed yesterday that a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the two parties and that a period of due diligence, including discussions with the Football Association and FA Premier League, has now been entered.
“This is a great event for both the club and Abu Dhabi,” said board representative Fahim, chief executive of Hydra Properties in the Middle East. “Our goal is very simple, to make Manchester City the biggest club in the Premier League, and to begin with, to finish in the top four this season.
“We will adopt marketing plans that reflect positively on the club and the company from investments in all sectors of television marketing and purchasing of the star players, as well as development of infrastructure facilities at the club.”
Fahim also says the new owners will back club manager Mark Hughes by adding top players to the club in a bid to break into next season’s Champions League. Aside from buying Robinho, City yesterday made ambitious deadline day bids for stars such as Tottenham’s Dimitar Berbatov, Valencia’s David Villa and Mario Gomez of Stuttgart.
“We will support him by bringing the best players and it is his job to support them,” he added.
“We really have deep pockets. By closing a deal with one of the players today they can see we are serious in developing the club into one of the top four.”
Thaksin brought City in July 2007 for £81.6m and has bankrolled a number of big-money transfers in the last 14 months.
But his future hopes for the club have been brought into question in recent months after a legal wrangling back in Thailand saw £1bn of his assets frozen.
Thaksin (left) has also vowed to stay in England to avoid facing corruption charges in his homeland, which he claims are politically motivated. Similar charges saw his wife sentenced to three months in prison, she has since been released on bail.