In amongst all the derby previews in today’s press are two excellent pieces by City supporting Guardian writer David Conn, where he interviews Khaldoon al Mubarak in Abu Dhabi.
Khaldoon responds to criticism of City’s spending being a danger to football:
“I could accept the argument if we were artificially building up the club through debt”
“That produces a destructive end result; we have seen that happen. But in our case, the club will be in the healthiest position because there is no debt. We have funded it through equity [permanent investment].
“I believe what we are doing is a fair way to inject competition into football, without debt.”
This is confirmation of what we already know, but which a lot of City’s critics choose to ignore. He goes on to respond to the plans being put forward by Michel Platini to curb the freedom of owners to invest in clubs:
“The argument that this is unhealthy suggests that the big clubs, which make the most money, must remain the big clubs, that the status quo must remain.
“Is Mr Platini saying that only Real Madrid and Barcelona have the right to be competitive in La Liga?”
This is precisely the problem with the plans. Platini has always said he wants to make European football fairer, but it seems that the only changes he can get the big clubs to agree to, are ones that don’t threaten them. Hence the ‘financial fair play’, linking expenditure to revenue, is ok for the likes of Milan who have a high turnover. He appears to be playing on these clubs fear of City’s spending to get an agreement to his changes.
There seems to be a denial of the problems these rules will cause in stopping clubs like City challenging those established in the Champions League. The silence from Uefa and Platini on this is becoming increasingly apparent.
Khaldoon confronts it head on:
“I appreciate the argument about having so much money.
“The way I answer it is: Yes, this is a club, but it is a business too, and in business, you are there to compete. And we are striving to build the club the right way, with respect for its heritage, and the fans.”
The second article looks at how the ownership of City is part of the move to promote Abu Dhabi and it’s values. Conn firstly describes how this push is part of the state’s policy. The level of expenditure is awesome, and makes the investment in City seem almost trifling.
Interestingly, the purchase of City was initially a private venture by Sheikh Mansour who is a football fan, but with the global media attention that has followed, City are now viewed as part of the plan to promote Abu Dhabi itself. Could this mean the people in Abu Dhabi will be even more determined to see City being successful and having a positive presence at the centre of world football? It is hugely exciting to think so.
The money being spent on City is still considered an investment, that will prove it’s worth if City are established as a top European club. Then there is the fan side. According to Khaldoon:
“Sheikh Mansour is a huge football fan. There is an enjoyment, a pleasure, which comes from owning it.”
“There is a pure, football, emotional side to it, and a big business side, too. I think what attracted Sheikh Mansour was the great football journey, but also there is a business sense, that we can create a franchise, a business, over years, which will create value and reap a long term return.”
There’s a further two parts to this interview to be published by The Guardian.