Phil Anderton was once described by a Pro League official as a "radical", and in the context of domestic football promotions and marketing, he surely was that.
He envisioned turn-away crowds for league matches; women, expatriates and children in the seats; food and drink available for purchase in the stands; contests and giveaways at half time; music and video replays inside the stadium, community outreach programmes - and commercial endorsements worth Dh250 million.
Perhaps "revolutionary" is a more precise description of Anderton because essentially none of what he envisioned had been tried before in the UAE.
When the Briton was appointed the chief executive of Al Jazira in January of last year, his brief from the board clearly was to make Jazira a commercial and popular success, even as the football side of the organisation were making unprecedented breakthroughs on the pitch.
In the same season that the Abu Dhabi club won their first league title and President's Cup, they also twice shattered the league record for single-game attendance, drawing 28,164 for a home match with Al Wasl in October and 36,241 for the season-finale "celebration of champions" extravaganza versus Dubai in June, an event that featured professional singers, post-match fireworks and the award of a Dh1 million Ferrari to a local schoolteacher who won a shoot-out that left the crowd gasping.
Jazira's overall attendance in 2010/11 was also a record, at 175,139 for 11 matches, making them the most successful sports entity in the country's history.
Their crowds represented 41 per cent of all fans to see a Pro League game last season. The other 11 clubs, combined, accounted for 59 per cent, and none of them hit the Asian Football Confederation target of 5,000 fans per match, on average.
And now, Anderton is gone. He quietly resigned last week and left the country. He departs with a job well-started but incomplete.
It is not at all clear that the other 11 clubs in the league have digested or even been impressed by what Jazira and Anderton accomplished.
The Pro League, it turns out, is deeply conservative, as are most sports organisations around the world.
The template here, for nearly four decades, is to throw open the gates, welcome in a crowd that is nearly uniformly young, male and Emirati, and to leave them to their own devices - bereft of food or drink, starved of information, shown no replays and expected to be content with 90 minutes of football.
Before arriving in the UAE, Anderton worked in marketing for the Scottish Rugby Union and the ATP Tennis World Tour, and he was chief executive of the Scottish Premier League side Hearts. He had absorbed the latest ideas on sports marketing, which could be summed up in three words: "supporters come first".
He understood the great lesson of contemporary sports marketing: that modern television coverage is so compelling that many fans see no need to leave their homes. Anderton wanted to create a sense of "theatre" to put fans in the stands.
"If you're asking them to come out of their home and go to your stadium, and not the cinema, you have to offer them at least a similar experience," he said.
Jazira conducted market research, another radical idea, and discovered that most expatriates knew nothing about the football team playing at the big stadium on Muroor Road. "They thought it was a club for Emiratis and not a club for non-locals," Anderton said. "The club was not speaking to people. They didn't know what league we played in, didn't know who the players were."
But the Jazira way was not just to seek out expatriates. Anderton's vision was to make the club a meeting place for the disparate communities of the capital. "The club can be a focal point for people to come together, feel they belong, feel like they're being a part of Abu Dhabi," he said.
The Jazira board signed off on what was a noble concept: their stadium as the crossroads of nations; their football club as a unifying social force.
Now we shall see if the Jazira experiment will survive the departure of Anderton and several of his top lieutenants. Was it a 20-month experiment now concluded? Or have the seeds of a modern, progressive, competitive sports organisation been well and truly planted?
The final seven months of the season should provide the answers.