Abu Dhabi seals deal to buy Manchester City

UPDATE 1: New owners sanction $58mn bid for Spurs striker Berbatov as deadline looms.
Abu Dhabi seals deal to buy Manchester City
By Anil Bhoyrul
Mon 01 Sep 2008 11:28 AM

Premier League football club Manchester City has been taken over by the Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment (ABUG), Arabian Business can reveal.

The deal was struck late on Sunday night between the club’s former owner Dr Thaksin Shinawatra, former Prime Minister of Thailand, and ADUG.

And the new owners wasted no time in sanctioning a last-minute bid to sign Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov before the close of the transfer window which Spurs have reportedly accepted.

The Bulgaria international has been a target for Premier League champions Manchester United throughout the summer, but City's new owners have stepped in with an audacious last-minute move.

City's offer for Berbatov is reported to be in excess of $58 million and would set a new British transfer record.

ADUG will be represented on the new board of Manchester City by Hydra Properties CEO Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim.

Al Fahim, who led negotiations, confirmed on Monday the deal had been struck. He told Arabian Business: “We will release details later, but this is a great event for both the club and Abu Dhabi.

"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.”

Al Fahim stressed that the Group will solve all the club problems and clear any pending payments, and will comprehensively support the club by bringing in some of the best football players in the world.

Manchester City’s future has been uncertain following legal problems faced in Thailand by Shinawatra, who will stay on as honorary president of the club without any administrative responsibilities.

It is understood that negotiations began three weeks ago, and were completed on Sunday night at Emirates Palace Hotel in Dubai.

The deal was signed in the presence of Al Fahim, a member of the Group board and the successful architect of the deal, Shinawatra and Dr Khalid Kadfour Al-Muhairy, the head of the Emirates Group for advocate and legal consultants.

After sealing the deal for one of England's best known and oldest clubs, ABUG hope it will reinforce Abu Dhabi's position as a capital of both sport and economics.

Al Fahim said: "We in Abu Dhabi United Company for Development and Investment are keen to develop ways to provide support and care for various sports activities to help build and develop a new generation of young State, which represents the real wealth and the future of this nation and the cornerstone for building the future of our civilisation.

"As embodied in our mission to open new horizons in all kinds of sports, it will enable them to enjoy healthy body and mind, thanks to the lessons we have learned from the wise leadership in Abu Dhabi."

He added: "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 stars players, as well as development of infrastructure facilities at the club."

The deal is a huge coup for Al Fahim. Through Hydra Properties he is already involved in several sports sponsorship deals, and is building a new football academy in Abu Dhabi with Italian soccer giants Inter Milan.

Manchester City was founded in 1880 under the name of "Marx Sent" (St. Marks), which was changed to "Pedro" (Ardwick AFC) in 1887. The current name was taken on in 1894.

The club has won the English League Championship twice, the FA Cup four times, the League Cup twice and the European Cup Winners Cup once.

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