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18th May 2023

Why Man City’s success means the end for football as we know it

Rory Fleming

Man City sports washing

Man City’s potential treble would be the crowning glory to the UAE’s sports washing project.

Manchester City steamrolled the defending European Champions on Wednesday night, thrashing Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid side 4-0 at the Etihad.

Sports media was awash in the aftermath of the game with the eulogisation of Jack Grealish’s down-to-earth persona, or rapturous praise for Pep Guardiola’s tactical masterclass.

However, none of that matters. Regardless of the heights this oil-backed club scales, they must always be remembered for what they are – a sports washing project being utilised as a political prop.

The Abu Dhabi United Group took over at City back in 2008, and since that faithful day in which the Citizens sold their soul to the highest bidder, football too took on a new form.

No longer a game for the working class, that takeover was one of the principal catalysts in the creation of the financially doped and morally corrupt game which now confronts us.

Man City sports washingManchester City spent the majority of the season chasing down Arsenal, but their eventual usurping of the Gunners always seemed inevitable. (Credit: Getty Images)

The Premier League’s demise.

Monikered the “greatest league in the world” by vested interests and their PR overlords, the fans of the Premier League are now subjected to the same procession-like title march season after season. This galactico-themed City side are on the precipice of claiming a fifth league title in six years.

In recent weeks, many have laughed at Arsenal’s implosion. Mikel Arteta’s youthful side, however, were one of the last protectors of the Premier League’s legitimacy. They should be celebrated, not ridiculed, for putting it up to this conglomerate of footballing mercenaries.

Likewise with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool team. The Reds were mocked for claiming just a sole Premier League title. Although, were it not for Mohamed Salah and co, we would be staring down the barrel of six-in-a-row for City and the complete erosion of the division’s current facade of competitiveness.

In the first decade of the Abu Dhabi group’s ownership alone (2008-2018), Man City spent a jaw-dropping €1.44 billion in transfer fees, while recouping less than €400 million in sales, an incredulous net spend of over €1 billion.

That doesn’t even include the big-money signings in recent seasons such as Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland, or the exorbitant wages and agents fees being dished out behind the scenes.

Arsenal put up a fight for most of the season, but even with an eight-point lead in March, there was a relentless aura surrounding Man City’s eventual title charge.

Now, with a four-point lead with two games to go, an FA Cup final against a stuttering Manchester United, and a European final against an ageing Inter Milan side, it appears that a record-equalling treble is on the cards for Pep Guardiola’s men.

Man City sports washingCity’s likeable big-name signings have succeeded in eroding the club’s tag as unliked champions. (Credit: Getty Images)

PR Masterclass around the City machine.

Just three years ago, Man City were banned from competing in the Champions League for two seasons by UEFA for “serious breaches” of financial fair play rules and for failing to co-operate with their investigation.

However, thanks to the help of their high-paid lawyers, City circumvented any sanctions and continued on as if nothing had happened.

In recent times, thanks to the out-going personalities of their aforementioned big-name signings such as Grealish and Haaland, the club have gone about reimagining their perception through a barrage of viral social media content.

But don’t let Haaland’s impersonations of John Stones, or Grealish’s affable demeanour, make you forget what this Manchester City side are.

On CBS Sports last night, the charismatic trio of Thierry Henry, Micah Richards and Jamie Carragher even seemed fooled, as they gushed over Pep’s star-studded squad, hugging and handshaking the victorious City players.

Now, in the coming weeks, expect the PR spin to reach overdrive. Guardiola will be lauded in British media for being a tactical innovator, conveniently forgetting about the embarrassment of riches afforded to him.

If Carlo Ancelotti’s imperious Real side couldn’t cause a City misstep, the end is nigh for not just English football’s credibility, but the competitiveness of European football as a whole.

Should City claim their maiden European title in Istanbul in three weeks’ time, who is to say that their financial ‘muscle’ won’t see them transplant their domestic dominance into continental supremacy also?

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