There seems to be a trend with Billionaires taking over football clubs and transforming them  from an average club to League Champions and a European heavy weight. Teams like Anzhi, Malaga CF and PSG for example could well be teams playing in the Champions League next year, and no one would have thought that one or two seasons ago But lets be honest, money has always played its part in the world of football. The richer clubs are more successful, some clubs are rich because over the years they have built their club up and win trophies, where as some have been taken over by rich businessmen. But money makes the world go round. Some here in England seem to be resistant to this, just like when Chelsea was taken over by Roman Abramovich. They went from being a decent club to European elite in a few seasons. So what is it that the average fan dislikes when a club is backed by a “sugar daddy.”

Why do you hate us so?

There is another powerhouse in the mix backed by Billions of pounds, and the fans are against them too. Manchester City can buy pretty much any player in the world, and if they win the league and do well in the Champions League there may only be two players that they couldn’t buy and that is Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but I still wouldn’t rule that out. Why does the average fan take such a disliking to a team that honestly haven’t done anything wrong. If their club had been taken over, they wouldn’t be complaining. There are some Arsenal fans that are angry that City can now buy who they like, and deplore it, but at the same time moan that Arsène Wenger isn’t spending huge money. It’s funny how they can’t see the irony in that. What that comes down to is jealousy, fans want success and money will bring that. Wenger is against football clubs spending money that they don’t generate, and City have recently made a mockery of the FFP, so on those grounds I can agree with fans disliking City as they should go by the rules, but in business there is always a loop hole to be exploited, but that football is a sport not a business, but that is for another article. In terms of football City have crashed into the top 4, and look to be pressing for the title, but there has been a shift from last year where their tactics seemed to be rather negative, but at the moment the football they are playing you can’t do anything but applaud them, and it is very hard to hate a team that you are praising. If City continue to play this way, they will have won me over, not as a fan of their club, but a fan of their football. When City were bought by Sheik Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, I was saying that they are going to “buy the league”, and yes, even wrote an article saying how they bought the FA Cup, but this season is different, they are playing with such style, the passing, the movement and the performances of Silva and Agüero are something else. I can not sit there and moan that they are going to buy anything this season. If they didn’t have the money, of course they wouldn’t have been able to buy those players, but they have, and if they win anything, they are going to win in style and that I can not be mad at that. If you ask the average fan what they thought of Blackburn winning the league, for those that remember that is, it isn’t met with the same kind of bitterness that it is when you talk of Chelsea, but for that time in history, they essentially “bought the league.” But I guess people were just relieved that it wasn’t Manchester United again!

The enemy of my enemy is my friend!

Jack Walker took full control of the club in January 1991, but has helped the club build a new stand while vice-president of the club and it is suggested he helped out with the purchase and the wages of players. Walker bought the club half way through the 1990-91 season and were in a poor league position just above relegation. The then manager Don Mackay was able to bring in some players and kept Blackburn in the league, but things really started to turn around when Kenny Dalglish was hired as manager. He helped lead the club to promotion to the newly formed Premier League through the play-offs ending 26-years away from the top flight of English football beating Leicester City 1-0 in the playoff final, thanks to a penalty from Mike Newell. With Blackburn now in the top flight, the aim was to not just stay there but challenge and so reinforcements were needed. Blackburn signed Stuart Ripley from Middlesbrough for 1.3m and then they showed their ambition by signing Alan Shearer for a British record of £3.5m. In January Blackburn added to their midfield signing Patrick Andersson from Malmo for £800k and Henning Berg from Lillestorm for £400k. Unfortunately for Blackburn Shearer’s season was over due to injury.

Blackburn continued to build their squad signing Graeme Le Saux for £700k from Chelsea and spending £2.5m on striker Kevin Gallacher. Blackburn finished that season in 4th. Blackburn wanted to improve on their final position from the previous season and signed Tim Flowers in November 1993 from Southampton for £2.4m, becoming the most expensive keeper in Britain and with Shearer now back from injury Blackburn started to push United for the title, but in the end finished 8 points behind United to finish 2nd in the league but qualifying for the Uefa Cup. Blackburn again broke the British transfer record when the brought Chris Sutton for £5m. With Shearer ending the season 2nd in the scoring charts with 31 goals and Sutton joint 3rd with 25 goals Blackburn fans were eagerly anticipating the following season. And the fans were right to be excited as Shearer and Sutton struck up a great relationship and were dubbed “SAS”, a fitting name, not only as it was the initial of both their names but for the relation to the deadly S.A.S.

By the end of the season Shearer was top goal scorer with 34 goals and Sutton with 15, 49 combined, and Blackburn were Champions and were to play in the Champions League for the first time in their history. Blackburn won the Premiership on the last day of the season in bizarre fashion, they were up against Liverpool, while United faced West Ham, If Blackburn won, they would win the league, but when Jamie Redknapp fired in a freekick that looked to have sealed the league in United’s favour, it wasn’t soon after that the Blackburn Rovers fans were cheering and with the game still playing, the Blackburn player started celebrating, as the news of United result came in. A great piece of Premiership History.

Great management and great players won Blackburn the league, but it is thanks to the money and the backing from Jack Walker that really can be attributed to the success Blackburn Rover fans saw. He rebuilt the club, through rebuilding the stadium, breaking the transfer records to buy players like Shearer and Sutton. He took Blackburn from the second division to Premiership Champions in five years and that is why he is still revered by the fans today.

Sometimes though,  money doesn’t equate to trophies, and that is an unfortunate truth for Newcastle fans. Although they didn’t win trophies, they did win many, many fans for the style of play and excitement they brought to the Premier League, and those new fans wanted them to win the League, yes because of their exciting play, but also so that United didn’t!

Sir John Hall became the club’s chairman in 1992, and appointed Kevin Keegan as manager, who managed to save the team from relegation to the Third Division and got them back to back promotions and got them into the Premier League. Keegan was backed by Hall in the transfer market, as he brought in Rob Lee,  Barry Venison and Andy Cole for a then club record £1.75m and the club won the then First Division Championship at the end of the 1992–93 season earning promotion to the then new Premier League.

In their first season in the Premiership Keegan added Ruel Fox and Peter Beardsley. At the end of the 1993–94 season, their first year back in the top flight they finished in third, their highest league finish since 1927 and with Cole as the Premiership top goal scorer with 34 goals.

In the following seasons Keegan added Philippe Albert, David Ginola, Les Ferdinand and Faustino Asprilla and with the likes of Beardsley, David Ginola, Colombian “Tito” Asprilla and Les Ferdinand, they gave the Premiership viewers some wondrous games, and none were more entertaining than the 4-3 loss to Liverpool in the 1995/1996 season. That year Newcastle finished the season second and with Keegan looking to improve on that, Newcastle broke the British transfer record and signed Alan Shearer. With many believing that Shearer would go to the champions, Manchester United, it was a real coupe for Newcastle to sign the striker.

With an attack that now boasted goal scorers such as Ferdinand and Shearer along with the skilful players like Ginola, Asprilla and Beardsley Newcastle continued to dazzle and one of their greatest ever victories came in the beginning of that season against Manchester United beating United 5-0, with Albert wrapping up the scoring with “that” amazing goal.  For the first part of the 96-97 season saw Keegan in charge but when he resigned Dalglish was put in charge. Coming second again Newcastle gained entry to the Champions League and going through the preliminary rounds they were drawn in group c along with PSV Eindhoven, Dynamo Kyiv and Barcelona. They finished 3rd in the group, with Barcelona bottom, and a strong Dynamo Kyiv side winning the group, The biggest game for Newcastle supporters will be the 3-2 win against Barcelona at St. Jame’s park and refereed by Pierluigi Collina.

Under Kenny Dalglish, however the club endured a largely unsuccessful season with a 13th place finish in the 1997–98 FA Premier League, failure to progress beyond the group stages of the 1997–98 UEFA Champions League and defeat in the 1998 FA Cup Final. There is no doubt that the money fronted by Hall helped propel the club, but also a large amount of credit needs to go Keegan’s direction, who not only brought well for the club, but was able to inspire the players and entertain the fans, whether it was by his teams play on the pitch or his interviews off it. The attacking philosophy of Keegan led the team being labelled “The Entertainers” by Sky Sports, and soon became everyone’s second favourite team. But without the investments into the club they may well have been struggling in the lower league and would never have been title contenders or played in Europe in the Champions League.

It is not just in England that we can see the effects of money in football. Take Lazio for example, before Sergio Cragnotti took over the club, the roman club had only won 3 titles, 1 Coppa Italia (1958), one Serie B (68/69) title and one Serie A (73/74) title. But under his ownership and Sven-Goran Ericsson leadership they went on to win the Serie A title, 2 Coppa Italia’s, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and UEFA Super Cup. Cragnotti repeatedly broke transfer records in pursuit to build teams to compete and win trophies, players such as Juan Sebastian Veron, Christian Vieri and Hernan Crespo. But that is jumping ahead slightly.

Before Eriksson’s arrival Cragnotti’s Lazio had been building a team, and that has started with the signings of Aaron Winter £1m, Diego Fuser £1.5m, Paul Gascoigne £6m, Giuseppe Favali, Giuseppe Signori, Luca Marchegiani £6m, Paolo Negro, Alen Boksic £9.5m, Giuseppe Pancaro £1m, Pierluigi Casiraghi, £3.7m, Roberto Di Matteo and Pavel Nedved £3m. Lazio were Serie A runners-up in 1994/1995 and third in 1995/1996.

Sven took over in 1997 and finished the season in 7th place, but won the Coppa Italia winning 3-2 on aggregate over AC Milan. Milan won the first leg 1-0 by a George Weah goal, but Lazio won the second leg 3-1 with Weah again on target for Milan, and Gottardi, Jugovic and Nesta scoring for Lazio. The following season was much better for Lazio, but also marred as they lost the Scudetto on the last day of the season, missing out on the title by one point. All that would be forgotten the following season though as they went on to do the double which is much more a rarity than it is over here. Lazio had won the Serie A title for the first time in decades but continued to spend money, also capitalizing on the sale of players, but another Scudetto never came. As the years followed the money started to dry up, Cragnotti was embroiled in financial scandal’s and the club was taken over by creditors, and in the end had to sell some of their best players off, including club captain and then idol Nesta. Lazio lived the dream while they could and are now trying to recreate that, without as much financial backing.

Where there is big investment there is change.

Before the takeover of City by Sheik Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Manchester City were already spending some big money funded by Thaksin Shinawatra. On 6 July 2007, having acquired 75% of the shares, Thaksin’s purchase prompted a period of transfer spending at the club, spending in around £30 million, whereas over the previous few seasons net spending had been among the lowest in the division. In the summer transfer window for the 07/08 season City went on to buy Rolando Bianchi £8.8m, Gelson Fernandes Unds, Geovanni free, Martin Petrov £4.7m, Vedran Ćorluka unds, Elano £8m, Javier Garrido £1.5m, Valeri Bojinov Unds. City finished that season ninth under the management of Hughes, The following season saw city buy heavy again. Benjani came in for £3.87m, Jo £18m, Tal Ben Haim unds, Vincent Kompany unds, Shaun Wright-Philips, Glauber unds, Pablo Zabaleta unds, but the spending didn’t end their.

Hughes was about to get another huge war chest as Abu Dhabi United Group took over the club and on deadline day brought Robinho for £32.5m the revolution had begun, but so had the hate. With the amount of money available to them, and the signing of the marquee player, Robinho, automatically this seemed to get the back up of the average fan. Of course fans would love for it to be their club, but if it isn’t, and City are now being propelled up the league, the obvious “they are going to buy the league,” started and that was true to a degree.

In the January transfer window Hughes brought in Wayne Bridge, Craig Bellamy, Nigel De Jong, Shay Given and by the end of the season finished 10th. It was clear that the money spent was not going to bring success just yet, but there is more money to spend, and spend Hughes did. In the summer of 2009 City signed Gareth Barry £12m, Roque Santa Cruz £17.5m, Stuart Taylor Undisclosed, Carlos Tevez £25m, Emmanuel Adebayor  £25m, Undisclosed, Kolo Touré £16m , Sylvinho Free, Joleon Lescott £18m. Unfortunately for Hughes the board deemed it that he wasn’t doing enough to get the results they wanted and was replaced by Roberto Mancini. During the January transfer window there was not a host of transfers with only Patrick Vieira and Adam Johnson coming in. City finished 5th that season.

More money was spent in the summer to again improve the squad with Jérôme Boateng £10.4m, Yaya Touré £24m, David Silva £24m, Aleksandar Kolarov £16m, Mario Balotelli £24m and James Milner £24m brought in and in January Edin Dzeko came in for £27m. In the end there was an improvement and they finished 4th, and well, this season we have all seen what has happened. With the signings of Nasri, Clichy and more importantly Agüero,

If you applaud them, its hard to hate them

City look to be heading the right direction, and the way they have started the season, the way Silva and Agüero are playing it is hard to hate them. Now I will admit that I was one of those people that had their back up and was saying City were going to “buy the league” but I also felt that it would take time for such a large intake of players to gel, but I was wrong. And because of the way they are playing, if they do end up Champions, I will not be holding it against them. They are playing some beautiful football, scoring amazing goals, and are an all round joy to watch, which is not something I can say Chelsea were when they first won the league, and for me that is where the difference lies. City started off too defensive minded, but now that they are playing such beautiful football that it is great to watch and it seems more fans are now coming round to them.


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