Who ate all the pies?

Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 10, 2008 2:14PM

$4.03 a gallon also gets you a soccer team

Rate: 4 Flag

In the midst of all the campaign rhetoric about how American consumption of oil from the Middle East is funding terror networks who strike against America and American interests, it's worth highlighting a purchase that shows that all these petro-dollars aren't all going towards sharia and Semtex.

The ruling family of Abu Dhabi is in the process of buying the English soccer club Manchester City. Even in a sport which operates in a mode that makes US professional leagues look like the business-competition-and-labor-law protected, tax-payer cossetted quasi-socialist softies that they are, this is huge - the money alone is staggering, far less the possibility that the league will be turned on its head with "bought success."

Manchester City are the also-rans of Manchester's soccer tradition - whereas Manchester United are one of the most successful and visible sides in world football, City are best known of late for having been last owned by deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (accused of human rights abuse and facing deportation back to Thailand to face corruption charges) and employing former England coach and unlikely lothario Sven Goran Eriksson, whose strong point as England manager was advice on how not to get caught with groupies.

While the Abu Dhabi investors are following a well worn path in taking ownership of an English soccer team, their plans are rather more ambitious than those of their predecessors- and reflect the marketing value of English soccer teams and home concerns rather than any interest in what the local fans think. It's a classic collision of local and global, and thus far it's not clear who's winning.  

In the meantime, though, City fans are eagerly awaiting the results of enormous amounts of money being spent on their team. Singer, songwriter, and all-around bon vivant Noel Gallagher of Oasis has already pointed out that now anytime Manchester United fans fill up their cars, they are funding City's plans - and when you get down to it, what could be more satisfying than that, in sporting tribalism? 

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Besides propping up American financial giants so they can continue to bilk customers, what does $4 gas get Americans?
Thanks for reporting on something I most likely would never have heard about.
The swelling bank accounts of the oil nations and their citizens are causing all sorts of interesting acquisitions. I only pay attention to blood sports and would have missed this as well, so I echo stellaa.

Thanks all.

Skeptic Turtle, what $4 gas gets Americans is the first meaningful reduction in miles driven in years, the first time that the Ford F-150 pickup hasn't been the best selling vehicle in something like the last 10 years, and an incentive to actually rethink transportation policy.

It also gets them a personal budget squeeze not reflected in inflation figures and underlines the effects of no real income growth over the last several years.

In other words, a whole bunch of cod-liver oil: it's good for you, but profoundly unpleasant to choke down.
Oh, and Stellaa - Liverpool is owned by two Americans, George Gillet and Tom Hicks. (Hicks also owns the Texas Rangers and is a major Bush backer, embarrassingly he is also a fellow alum of sorts). Their purchase was all leveraged debt which they put onto the club, and now their promises to build a new stadium are being deferred - allegeldly because of the credit curnch, but mostly because their debt refinancing exprires next year. Meantime, the area around the stadium is one of the most blighted urban environments in the UK, and the residents have been counting on redevelopment funds that are contingent on the new stadium.

None of which matters all that much, but it goes to underline the risks of foreign owners - you never know what you're getting.
That would have been quite the party, I imagine. My favorite thing about Liverpool FC is that the players are routinely robbed by the locals when the team is playing out of town. Talk about reinforcing stereotypes of Scouse scallywags.