It's a foreign old game

Manchester City looks likely to become the latest Premier League football club to fall into the hands of foreign owners. That's if former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has had a bid of £81.6m recommended by the club board, can pass the Premier League's ‘fit and proper person' test, a prerequisite of the deal.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Given that he has just been charged with corruption back in his homeland (with the allegation that he abused his power to help his wife buy land) the football authorities may well red card him straight off. Then again, this is the Premiership we're talking about, and with the amount of bungs apparently flying around they may not think it matters.

There is of course much debate about the foreign influence in the Premiership. Should Thaksin succeed, it would take the total number of Premiership clubs under foreign ownership to eight, including three of the regular top four - Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. This raises issues similar to those that plague the debate over the influx of foreign players. Such influences may raise the standards, of facilities as well as of the football, but can it be good for the English game to hand our historic clubs over to Russian oil barons, Saudi sheiks and controversial ex-Thai PMs? Only time will tell. For now at least it certainly makes the whole thing more exciting, especially when compared to mindless biographies of players, reports of WAG shopping trips and interminable corner counts.

Of course the City fans may feel differently, especially as £3m-a-year England flop Sven-Goran Eriksson is being lined up to manage things on the field. Given that City set the record last year for the fewest goals ever scored at home in a top-flight season (a meagre 10), Eriksson probably qualifies as a coup for the club, whose last decent manager was the late, great Alan Ball, a decade ago. But Sven will have to do more than inspire a few more home goals to justify what's sure to be a ridiculously disproportionate amount of Thaksin's cash.

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