How Sheikh Mansour Has Done Manchester City Right Where Salzburg Has Gone Wrong
It's something that football fans across the globe worry about.
If a billionaire were to buy 'your' club, would it still be 'your' club?
Manchester City are a club bought by a billionaire and yesterday evening they played in the Europa League against another club, Red Bull Salzburg, who have similarly been bought by a wealthy entity.
But it seems the two owners are like chalk and cheese.
Where FC Salzburg, formed in 1933, have struggled to retain some semblance of their history, the fact is Manchester City now celebrate theirs far more than they have recently.
FC Salzburg fans have even suffered the renaming of their club to include the name of their owners' business and a new badge with the same company's logo. Even the clubs' colours have been changed to complete the corporate branding of the club, which may as well be called simply Red Bull Energy Drinks FC.
But over in Manchester, things have taken a far more sensible path.
Of course the club's owner, Sheikh Mansour, has used MCFC to promote his homeland of the United Arab Emirates and his business interests, but he has done so via sponsorships that also allow revenue to be brought in.
The club have had a number of new kits since the takeover, but the home strip remains sky blue and white, and even the away and third-choice kits celebrate historical links to the past and the city of Manchester.
But more has been done as well.
Old players have been brought back to the club, in some cases decades after they were last employed by it.
These players bring a warmth and familiarity to the conversations of past glories, and that was something that a previous chairman, Peter Swales, stamped on during his disastrous 21-year tenure.
Everywhere you look at City, the club includes the images and words of fans that matches with the boards' stated desire to make the club a community one for the fans.
When some of the plans were mooted it sounded as if it would be too commercial, too Americanised but in truth it feels just about right.
Where Salzburg fans have been banned from the ground after protesting the changes at their club, City fans have funded a banner that proudly thanks Sheikh Mansour for what he has done at Eastlands.
So all is going well at City, but the atmosphere still lacks something, perhaps best epitomised by a certain lady named Helen Turner.
Helen was a well-loved, beehive-wearing Mancunian City fan who, for decades, was a fixture at both home and away games.
Helen used to ring a bell during games and of course was known as Helen The Bell. Her campanology weapon of choice sits proudly in the Manchester City museum, donated by her family.
Perhaps we need a new Helen to add the final piece of the jigsaw.
What I can say though is that Manchester City most definitely have not lost their soul to money.
In fact I would suggest that the club has regained a little of what was lost since it won its last major trophy (the League Cup) 34 years ago—just a tiny bit of pride.
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