Thaksin’s Takeover: Commentary from the UK

First things first: the reception of Thaksin Shinawatra in Manchester has been enthusiastic, and increasingly so with last week’s confirmation of four new signings of quality players. It’s fair to say that the majority of Manchester City fans are extremely excited about the new era at hand and that most are more than happy to give the new owner the benefit of the doubt and then some with regard to the allegations and charges against him. See this video from the BBC for some fan-on-the-street interviews with City supporters in Manchester (near the end), and this blog entry from a journalist for the Manchester Evening News for a fair barometer of the excitement. But there are some dissenting views out there, and every message board I’ve looked at has at least a few City fans who have taken a dim view of recent developments, though the trend at the moment is very much in Thaksin’s favour.

Outside Manchester, reaction to date has been decidedly mixed if not negative. I have yet to see an article in the British press arguing that Thaksin’s takeover is a wholly unproblematic Good Thing for English football. Most instead contain an allusion to Thaksin’s “controversial” or “shady” past and imply there is something worrisome about all this without necessarily specifying what. But a few commentators have critiqued Thaksin’s takeover in more direct terms. Notable examples include articles by professed City fans Simon Hattenstone and David Conn, who write for The Guardian, and this blast from commentator Brian Glanville of The Times.

Also see the extended set of comments about the issue from around the world that have accompanied The Guardian’s pre-season preview of City. (The writers are picking us 12th, by the way.)

Only in the last week or so has awareness of the takeover and the criticism of Thaksin moved beyond the sports pages to attract wider attention. The BBC have run several pieces on the story in the past week, as well as a one-hour radio programme about the takeover in conjunction with the release of Human Rights Watch’s letter arguing that Thaksin is not a fit and proper person to run a club.

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