Thursday, August 02, 2007


Thai Panic

The recent takeover of Manchester City by the deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has certainly ruffled some feathers.

Human rights groups are not amused, while Manchester City fans seem to have taken the presumption of innocence to, well, new levels of presumption. One wag on a BBC blog has suggested that Shinawatra's most heinous crime has actually been to give Sven-Goran Eriksson another job in English football!

With the massive influx of foreign money into the Premiership, and with clubs increasingly reverting to private ownership in the process, a person of highly dubious antecedents was bound to appear on the scene at some point. It's worth pointing out that there are plenty of questions over Roman Abramovich's past, too, although he has not (to the best of my knowledge) been implicated in extra-judicial murder.

Are the "fit and proper person" tests appropriate for the new breed of foreign owners cashing in on the marketing phenomenon that is the English Premiership? Probably not, but it's hard to see the Premier League acting too speedily to review their criteria.

Although the situation in England makes one hanker for the fan ownership systems in place in Spain, there are problems there as well, such as World Soccer editor Gavin Hamilton outlines in his latest piece. Democracy is ever imperfect, and fickle, impatient fans render it even more so in the case of a football club.

The fit and proper persons test has never really been dealt with in a professional manner.

Shinawatra, has been in the public view for a while now, there is no evidence to suggest that he has commited or broken human rights law, but the fact that when he was Thai PM, he had a hard line on people who did break the law (or in some cases, who he fought broke the law).

Although he may never be found guilty of such crimes, people must surely think, he got overthrown by his fellow countrymen, so something must be wrong for that to happen, but at the end of the day, he has not been charged, wrongly or rightly, so i suppose all that is said about him, could simply be slander.

I suppose there's always two sides to every story.

But we can talk about Thaksin, talk about Abramovich, etc and it seems they all came into their money by being slightly underhand, or taking a big risk that most of us wouldn't.
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