Jim White

It ain’t what you got, it’s the way that you use it…

Jim White

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It is the clash of the super rich: mega money meets humungo cash, the heavyweight dosh brawl, played out on - presumably - a carpet of fifty quid notes. Arab-endowed Manchester City at home to Russian-bolstered Chelsea has taken on the character of a whole new ball game since the arrival of oil capital at Eastlands.

Abu Dhabi United, what some might deem an unfortunate name for an investment vehicle for the Blues, are promising to transform the place into the vibrant centre of the football universe. Every player you have ever heard of is apparently a target for their largesse. No-one will escape from busy fingers scurrying across the chequebook once the transfer window re-opens in January.

And already there has been real effect from their intervention. Tickets that might have otherwise remained unsold have been snapped up by those lapsed City fans hungry to see the new way of things (plus those keen to take the opportunity to gloat at their visitors that they aren't the richest anymore). It will be a sell-out, and the City of Manchester stadium will buzz with something which has been in short supply there since it opened: optimism. It is the place to be this weekend.

Meanwhile, 30-odd miles down the road, the old warhorses of the league will be in contention. Liverpool and Manchester United, the new champions of debt, American owned and in hock to the money lenders to the tune of millions, will trade metaphorical (and in some cases actual) blows.

Dimitar Berbatov - briefly until the new City boys announced their intent by signing Robinho - the priciest forward in English football history is likely to make his debut for the visitors. Albert Riera will probably step out for the first time for the home club. An international cast playing out a very local disagreement. Lucky kick off is four hours before the City game: you wouldn't want to miss either.

The fact is, whatever you may think about the new arrivistes in England's national pursuit, they don't half add a new dimension of interest. Money brings something to the party (generally money).

Mind, its appearance doesn't seem to be having the affect everyone predicted in one particular spot in England's game. When Lashki Mittal, the world's fourth richest man, a fellow so hugely endowed he makes those Abu Dhabi lot look merely middle class, took a stake in Queen's Park Rangers, fans of the west London club predicted huge things.

The Premiership within a year, the Champions League in five: this was the big time. There would be no wilting in Chelsea's shadow now, especially as Mittal was joining a board already populated by Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore, men who are hardly strangers to a well-stocked current account.

But so far it hasn't quite worked like that. The big names haven't arrived at Loftus Road, the big expansion plans are yet to be fulfilled, the big dreams remain the stuff of bedtime. So far, the only distinction brought by the new ownership to the club is that last season, with five weeks to go, of the 24 teams in the Championship, QPR were the only ones who could neither be promoted or relegated. It was stability at least, though the fans had hoped for a little more from the billions.

So far this season, whatever has been emerging from White City it has not been pyrotechnics. Currently the hoops are ninth in the Championship table, with seven points from four matches. They play Southampton at home on Sunday, a game which is not sending the national palate salivating in the way events at City are. Some QPR fans are beginning to wonder if the promised financial revolution will ever take place. Or whether their new board are in fact more interested in the real estate possibilities inherent in their stadium than in projecting the club to the top.

The fact of the matter is, it is not money that counts in this new world of football. It is what you do with it. We live in interesting times.

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