Thaksin, Pojaman Flee to London

Posted August 11, 2008 by thadw
Categories: Uncategorized

The action is coming thick and fast these days, as Thaksin Shinawatra and his wife have been confirmed as arriving in London rather than Bangkok where they were expected for a court hearing on a land deal corruption case. A press statement from Thaksin will be forthcoming Monday.

Meanwhile, the club’s official website announced that defender Vedran Corluka will be staying at City, but rumours on City message boards suggest that the story may be complicated, with some claiming that Tottenham have already signed the player and that a lawsuit may be imminent. Other rumours claim Hughes would have quit City if the transfer had not been blocked. Such speculation may be baseless, but at the moment almost any story about what might really be happening at City seems plausible.

Chaotic times, but the main story is that Thaksin appears to be on the verge of being officially declared an international fugitive from justice, a development which would force the Premier League to make some difficult but important decisions.

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Man on the Run? Thaksin Fails to Return to Bangkok as Scheduled…

Posted August 10, 2008 by thadw
Categories: Uncategorized

Breaking news from Thailand is that Thaksin and his wife did not catch their plane back to Bangkok today, sparking speculation the couple may be headed to England to seek asylum….

Duncan McCargo Interview; Questions at City

Posted August 10, 2008 by thadw
Categories: Uncategorized

This blog has referenced several times the work of Leeds University academic Duncan McCargo, co-author of one of the two serious books about Thaksin published in English to date. In the past week he has given an email interview to the academic blog New Mandala, which is well worth checking out. No sharp new detail on Thaksin and only a fleeting reference to City, but McCargo offers much interesting background as well as very balanced comments about the state of Thai politics. Most pertinent, perhaps, is this quote: “Anyone who goes around predicting what is going to happen in Thailand is completely crazy.”

One might say the same about Manchester City. In the annual Thomas Cook Trophy showpiece friendly, City produced a rather impressive 1-0 victory over AC Milan following a cracking goal from Valeri Bojinov. But for many City fans, that victory was overshadowed by the absence of Vedran Corluka from the squad, with many reports indicating his move to Tottenham is a done deal, as well as reports that midfielder Stephen Ireland may be on his way out as well. Television presenters in England described City as a club in chaos and indicated a firesale may be under way, and a report in Sunday’s Mirror claims that Mark Hughes wants “crisis talks” with ownership over the surprise sale of Corluka, while some internet posters claiming inside knowledge suggest that City’s finances are in worse shape.

On the other hand, a Sunday feature in the Guardian on Hughes has a dramatically different tone with Hughes talking about his belief he can turn City into a top four side and expressing confidence that Thaksin remains committed to that cause.

Which of these very different pictures is a more accurate depiction of what’s going on at City? It would be foolish to judge that question at this point, but stay tuned. Suffice it to say that at the moment many City fans are feeling a bit jittery.

Over in Thailand, the question of the day is whether Thaksin and his wife will in fact return, as scheduled, from the opening of the Olympic Games in China to make their scheduled court appearances on Monday.

Absolutely Bangkok Interview

Posted August 8, 2008 by thadw
Categories: Uncategorized

The blog Absolutely Bangkok submitted a request for an article from Thaksin Skeptic a little while ago, and we’ve obliged with the following q-and-a covering everything related to Thaksin and Manchester City.

For those coming from that site seeing this blog for the first time, the following link provides “the argument of the blog” in full–i.e. the detailed analysis of the ethical and political issues surrounding Thaksin’s arrival as owner of Manchester City we assembled last year.

City for Sale? English Press Begins to Speculate

Posted August 6, 2008 by thadw
Categories: Uncategorized

The British media finally seemed to have caught on to the fact that Thaksin is in hot water in Thailand and that his position as City owner is consequently increasingly shaky. Two newspapers Wednesday discuss the possibility of Thaksin selling out. The Sun reports that Thaksin is looking for outside investors and open to selling the club if the right bid comes in. (The article is somehwhat hilarious as the writer gets a basic fact about Thai politics wrong–Thaksin is against the People’s Alliance for Democracy, not pulling its strings). The Daily Mail goes further and says that representatives of Thaksin have quietly approached potential buyers. Club officials say that Thaksin is open to further investors but has no plans to sell out.

The Daily Mail report is being picked up by the Thai media, and is currently the lead story on The Nation website.

Stay tuned.

Thaksin on the Defensive as Pojaman is Convicted; Consequences for City?

Posted August 5, 2008 by thadw
Categories: Uncategorized

Manchester City supporters are doing their level best to act as if this is just another normal preseason.As City combine early UEFA Cup action with high-profile friendlies against the likes of Hamburg, Celtic, and AC Milan, City supporters are in the usual routine of scrambling to find online TV feeds, evaluating early season performances, and speculating about transfers.

It’s a safe bet that the vast majority of those supporters are better qualified at the moment to comment on the promise of Ched Evans, the comeback of Valeri Bojinov, and the seeming travails of Felipe Caicedo than is the Blues’ owner. While the preseason has been going on, Thaksin has been locked in a series of legal battles back in Thailand.

The first shoe to drop in the long-awaited series of corruption trials came last week when Thaksin’s wife Pojaman was convicted and sentenced to prison for fraudulent tax evasion. Not only was Pojaman convicted, she was subjected to a stinging public rebuke from the sitting judge who faulted her for failing to set a good example. Thaksin and his family were on hand at the court, and Thaksin was described by one journalistic account as “shell-shocked” by the events. Pojaman is out on bail and appeals will delay any actual prison time.

Thaksin still has at least three cases pending against him, and analysts in Bangkok are wondering what his next move will be. One rumour has the couple going to China for the forthcoming Olympics never to return; others regard that prospect as unlikely. In any case, it is clear that unlike in the past Thaksin cannot control or manipulate the courts and consequently his position is tenuous.

All of this likely means that City fans should perhaps continue to enjoy their delusions of normalcy. The idea that Thaksin will plow lots of money into the club has certainly been put on hold–while the signing of 18 million pound Jo was a significant outlay, only defender Tal Ben Haim has been added to the side since then. Meanwhile rumours about the possible sales of Vedran Corluka and Elano continue to circulate.

Mark Hughes apparently still has resources available to him, but is not acting like a man with a war chest. Any improvement–or simply matching–of City’s league position this year will owe itself more to Hughes’s management of the available players rather than an influx of new talent. The guess here is that the squad on hand, while potentially very good, isn’t top six material.

But the bigger problems remain off the pitch. At a minimum, City is owned by a man who is thousands of miles away from City and can’t possibly have his finger on the pulse of the club, given the other things on his mind. Quite possibly, Thaksin will himself eventually get convicted, triggering questions as to the appropriateness of his ownership of City via the “fit-and-proper-person” test. If Thaksin is forced to divest the club, it’s safe to say an unholy mess is likely to transpire. No one knows what City’s books actually look like at the moment and there’s no guarantee that the club’s long-term interests would be safeguarded by Thaksin should he be forced to sell.

All that is still a few months off, of course, but the likelihood of Manchester City’s owner being convicted as a criminal has risen dramatically in recent weeks. Only further political upheaval in Thailand of sufficient strength to alter the existing political dynamic is likely to save Thaksin’s skin now.

Ronaldinho Chase Finally Ends; Brazilian Signs for AC Milan; Reality Check for City and Thaksin

Posted July 16, 2008 by thadw
Categories: Uncategorized

For a few fleeting hours on Tuesday it suddenly seemed possible that Thaksin might pull off a remarkable (albeit very expensive) coup by persuading Ronaldinho to sign for Manchester City. Instead, as expected, football realities kicked in and the player will be going to AC Milan. Some good inside info on how the negotiations went down can be found here.

The plus side for City is that’s 22 million pounds saved, more than enough to actually address the weaknesses in City’s lineup, especially on the right side of midfield. The downside perhaps for Thaksin is that getting the player undoubtedly would have galvanized many fans still perturbed by Sven’s sacking and also accelerated his long-term plans about making the club a worldwide name (especially in Asia).

Some will say fair play to Thaksin for trying; my sceptical view is that the pursuit of Ronaldinho was a waste of time and energy that should have been spent nailing down more realistic targets and that the footballing case for adding the bucktoothed wonder to a lineup already featuring Elano was less than compelling. I can’t deny that it would have been fun and interesting, however.

Speaking of fun and interesting, regardless of their views on Thaksin all City fans this week are delighted, amused and amazed by the group of City fans who are sailing from Scotland to the Faroes Islands to watch City play in their UEFA Cup qualifier this Thursday.

Absolute classic, and typical City in the best sense…