In England on Sunday, all eyes will be on Manchester. If high flying football club Manchester City defeat Queen’s Park Rangers on the final day of the English Premier League season, then the team will be champions of the country’s top league for the first time since 1968.
It’s all thanks to Sheikh Mansour. The Abu Dhabi billionaire bought the club in 2008, and has since invested not far short of half a billion dollars in taking a reasonably good team into the realms of the best in the land.
If City do win, and take the crown from neighbor and rival Manchester United, it could be the start of a period of domination for perhaps the world’s richest club.
So a win against QPR, owned by a Malaysian, will do it.
Asian tycoons and businessmen and women have become more active in taking over European clubs, although not all have been as successful. Earlier this week, Blackburn Rovers were relegated from the Premier League just 18 months after being taken over by Venky’s, an Indian poultry company.
Weeks after the deal was done, the company fired the established coach, Sam Allardyce and replaced him with the unknown Steve Kean. Not long after, the CEO and chairman left the club and were never replaced. Fans quickly turned against the owners, objecting to the fact that they failed to communicate with fans and didn’t seem to have a plan for the club.
Under Kean, results went from bad to worse and in front of an angry stadium in Blackburn, the team lost again to sink down to the second tier.
There was another ownership disaster involving an Indian businessmen and the tale of Ahsan Ali Syed at Spanish team Racing Santander. Syed had tried to buy Blackburn before Venky’s, but after allegations of unpaid debt surfaced, it all died a death.
He then turned up in Spain. Before too long, he disappeared and now has Interpol is on his trail.
Still, although Mansour is the dream of many fans, some question his passion for the club itself – he has reportedly attended just one match in Manchester in almost four years, and has no plans to be there this weekend with the trophy ready to be won.