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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Under UAE ownership, Manchester City prosper on and off the pitch

On Sunday, the club won its third title under Abu Dhabi United Group. But this one feels different

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has guided his side to this season's English Premier League title. Reuters
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has guided his side to this season's English Premier League title. Reuters

It is 10 years ago this summer that Abu Dhabi United Group bought English football club Manchester City. And on Sunday came an early anniversary present when City secured the English Premier League title after Manchester United, their nearest rivals in more ways than one, suffered a surprise home defeat against the division’s bottom side, West Bromwich Albion.

It is the third time in that decade that City have won the title. But this one feels different. Because of the size of the margin (they still have five league games to play and, if they win them all, will become the first team to top 100 points in an EPL season). Because this heralds a more successful era for the club than the triumphant six years under Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison in the 1960s. Because of the beauty of their play, which has won admiration from football fans regardless of affiliation. And because this, perhaps unlike the previous titles won under ADUG’s ownership, feels like the prelude to many, many more.

The Manchester City project is about much more than silverware, however. In Manchester itself, the club is playing a part in redeveloping the previously depressed area around its Etihad Stadium. Here in Abu Dhabi, it supports a flourishing football school offering boys and girls the chance to improve their skills – and their health. Only this month, The National reported on a special two-week camp for boys in Al Mirfa, a region in the west of the emirate where recreational opportunities are thin on the ground. And the story is the same in City Football Group’s many other outposts, be it Melbourne in Australia, Yokohama in Japan or Montevideo in Uruguay.

So hats off to manager Pep Guardiola and his team for a remarkable achievement on the field. And congratulations to the club for everything it is doing off the field to bring the often besmirched game of football into good repute.

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