Saturday, July 07, 2007

Thaksin plan to rebuild Man City and exploit Asia

Overthrown Thaland Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has given himself a three-year deadline to turn around the fortunes of English Premier League cub Manchester City but refused to confirm how much cash he will inject or exactly how he planned to reverse its fortunes beyond an improvement next season. Thaksin, who was ousted in a bloodless military coup last September, announced Friday he gained effective control of Man City through his company UK Sports Investments Ltd to become its new chairman. He said he had acquired 74.03 percent of the shares and declared his takeover offer unconditional. The Man City board has backed the bid but there have been concerns about the source of the money, with Thaksin facing corruption charges in Thailand. But according to the BBC, the man who brokered the deal has said "the money is clean." Keith Harris, executive chairman of Seymour Pierce Investment Bank, said the money had been "legitimately and transparently transferred to the UK".

Speaking in Hong Kong a day after former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson penned a three-year contract to manage the club, Thaksin said three years was a good time frame. "Normally I don't waste my time," he said. "Right now I have no other plans except to make the club a very good and strong club in the Premier League.'' Eriksson has reportedly told Thaksin that he needs at least ten new players to make City competitive and a transfer fund in the region of US$101 million dollars. Thaksin denied Eriksson had been handed a transfer kitty of this size, insisting he would not talk figures. But he said the club needed up to seven new players, and in particular fresh faces in midfield and attack.

Thaksin said money was an important component for success but it was not everything. He reportedly added that "there was potential for the club to exploit the Asian market."

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