Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Manchester City: The Beginning of the End

When I crawled out of bed on deadline day - September 1 - I had no idea what would happen in the next 18 hours. Given the previous few deadline days have been short of surprises, I wasn't expecting anything exciting.

So, while enjoying a fresh pot of tea and a fine chocolate digestive, imagine my surprise when Sky Sports News reported Manchester City were on the verge of, or had been, taken over by a ridiculously rich group of Middle Eastern multi-billionaires.

From seemingly being in serious trouble to being the richest club in the world, all within a few seconds. And on deadline day, of all days!

Of course, I assumed nothing would happen immediately. This was the real world, not Football Manager. A club could not be in the first throes of being taken over and, at the same time, throw money around to try and sign players, could they? And their boss, Mark Hughes, was playing golf - surely he wouldn't be doing that if he was expecting to play the transfer market?

How wrong I was. And how strange the events of those 10 hours or so from it being made clear Man City wanted to spend money to the window closing now seem. While it was fun at the time - and made for the most exciting deadline day bar none - it's now clear it was the start of the end for top-flight football as we know it.

So here I am, ready to share some views. Sure, some will disagree. Others will claim football died the day the Premier League started (and they may have a point, to be fair) but I write about a few home truths for those who are not totally aware of what the Middle Eastern takeover means.

As entertainment, it should be fun. In terms of "wow" factors, it should be fun. But in the medium to long term of the game we all love, it will be the saddest story of them all.

Unless, as I very much hope, I am totally wrong.