Arab group agrees Man City deal

Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim of ADUG and Man City's Pairoj Piempongsant
Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim of ADUG and Man City’s Pairoj Piempongsant

Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra has agreed to sell the club to a Middle East company.

Thaksin has signed a memorandum of understanding with Abu Dhabi United Group which would see the Arab company taking a majority stake in the club.

The deal would see Thaksin become honorary chairman of the club and retain a shareholding.

ADUG frontman Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim has promised to turn City into a top-four club within three seasons.

Al-Fahim, who has made his fortune from property development, told BBC Sport: “I like to have a challenge and looked at Manchester City as a club where you can add a lot and make them into one of the top four clubs.”

He also stated that the prospective new owners would back current manager Mark Hughes and add top players to City’s squad.

“We will support him by bringing in the best players and it is his job to support them,” Al-Fahim said.

“We really have deep pockets. By closing a deal with one of the players (on Monday) they can see we are serious in developing the club into one of the top four.”

He added: “Our goal is to make this football club one of the best not just in England but also in the world. To reach that goal there is no limit.

“It is not about breaking records. It is about the players we need. I will not bring any players just for the fame. I will bring them if we need them.”

Al-Fahim said ADUG, the financial arm of the Abu Dhabi royal family, was in talks with three players and hoped to sign at least one by the close of the transfer window on Monday.

BBC Sport understands that these players are Dimitar Berbatov, David Villa and Mario Gomez.

ADUG claims the takeover deal was completed at the Abu Dhabi Emirates Palace Hotel on Sunday.

Dr Al-Fahim and Thaksin’s adviser, Pairoj Piempongsant, were photographed posing with a City shirt and signing documents.

The ADUG statement claimed that the deal gave it “all management rights” over City, while Thaksin would become honorary president of the club “without any administrative responsibilities”.

Dr Al-Fahim promised to “solve all the club problems” and “clear any pending payments” as well as “bringing the best football players in the world” to City.

The statement also said City would qualify for the Champions League in the 2009/10 season.

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However, BBC Sport understands that ADUG has only signed a memorandum of understanding – essentially a gentleman’s agreement – with City.

The Middle East company wants to completely buy out the club.

City added: “A period of due diligence for all parties, including the Football Association and Premier League has now been entered.”

Former prime minister of Thailand Thaksin, who completed his takeover of City in July 2007, welcomed ADUG’s involvement.

“I’m delighted to be building this new partnership with Abu Dhabi United, who share my vision for Manchester City to join the top tier of British football brands on an international stage,” he said.

His ownership of the club has been constantly overshadowed by the problems he faces in his homeland.

A warrant was issued for his arrest last month after he failed to appear in court to face corruption charges.

His Thai assets, believed to be worth about £800m, have been frozen until the charges against him are resolved.

Former Man City chairman David Bernstein described the agreement as a “groundbreaking” moment for the club.

“I’m relieved as I’ve been concerned as to the direction of the club over the last 12 months,” Bernstein told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Many boards have fallen foul in the chase of Man Utd, but this is mega finance and maybe in a year we could be top five and chasing Champions League places.”

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