Amazing news on Monday as Manchester City Football Club was suddenly acquired by the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG). Who immediately gazumped the previously financially peerless Chelsea to the signing of good-but-not-that-good Brazilian forward Robinho for a British record transfer fee, making the inconsistent Robinho the highest paid player in the history of the game.
The transfer window is now closed, but when it reopens, we are hearing from ADUG that money will be no object as they intend to assemble the best team in the world. The English game has been struggling for a while to accommodate Chelsea, whose financial clout is underwritten by one of the world’s richest men, Roman Abramovich. Chelsea’s sudden weight in the transfer market immediately inflated transfer fees, and queered the pitch for all. To what extent? Well, Chelsea’s losses frequently exceed the turnover of even their closest rivals.
Now Abramovich is understood “to be worth” (curious phrase, that) around $23.5 billion, or about €16 billion. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, owners of ADUG, have an estimated wealth of upwards of €800 billion and have signaled their intention to sign just about every top player in Europe, and Critistiano Ronaldo, in the January transfer window.
How do we view investors like Abramovich, and the ADUG? Are they bringing excitement to all, making for a more exciting sport, or are they spoiling it, their unnatural concentrations of wealth making for an uncompetitive and distorted market? Is the game about the people, or about the rich? About the stars, or the grassroots? Clearly the game has changed: a giant with obscure motives and vast wealth has entered the market.
In other news on Monday, Google announced its Chrome browser.