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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Sheikh Mansour's open letter to Manchester City fans: we are only half way up our Everest

Owner thanks fans for 'loyalty, warmth, humour and humility' since purchasing the club in 2008

In this file photo taken on August 23, 2010 Manchester city owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed waves during the Premier League  match against Liverpool. AFP
In this file photo taken on August 23, 2010 Manchester city owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed waves during the Premier League  match against Liverpool. AFP

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed has written an open letter to Manchester City fans to mark his 10 years in charge of the club, thanking them for their “loyalty, warmth, humour and humility”, adding “we are only half way up our Everest”.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs owns the City Football Group that the English club is part of. Since 2008, the club has experienced an unprecedented decade of success.

Under Sheikh Mansour’s ownership the men’s team have won three Premier League titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups and are now a permanent fixture in the Uefa Champions League. Under Pep Guardiola, City became the first top-flight English team to reach 100 points as they cantered to the Premier League title last season.

The club have also established 10 disability teams that train alongside City’s youth teams as well as the senior men’s and women’s teams at the revered City Football Academy.

“It is now ten years since I joined with you in supporting this wonderful club and I wanted to mark that anniversary by writing to you directly, just as I did when the acquisition was completed and we began this journey,” Sheikh Mansour said. “We have come a long way since 2008 and it has been quite a ride.

“I want to take this opportunity to say that I am incredibly proud of the fact that the fundamental character of this Club and its supporters has not changed in the last decade. The qualities of loyalty, warmth, humour and humility which clearly stood it in good stead during its more challenging times, are still very much in evidence today and are essential to our success.

“Equally important to me and the Board, has been the progress made beyond the senior first team. Our women’s team has won four major domestic trophies and joined the European elite, reaching the Uefa Champions League semi-finals for two consecutive seasons.

“Our youth system has seen more than 100 young men secure a career in professional football in the UK and overseas, nine of which have appeared in Manchester City’s first team.”

The club was purchased from former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on September 1, 2008 and the new owners immediately signalled their intent to make City a major player in both England and Europe with the signing of Brazil international Robinho from Real Madrid for £32.5 million (Dh153.7m).

Since then City have spent over £1 billion on assembling one of the best squads in world football, and while Sheikh Mansour acknowledged that players and managers come and go “you the fans are permanent. I will not forget that”.

Sheikh Mansour promised the next 10 years “will be no less exciting” as City Football Group look to expand their global footprint that sees them run teams in England, Australia, Japan, Spain and Uruguay.

“I know you all remain ambitious and so do I. It feels that we are only half way up our Everest. There is much more to do and there is much more to win,” he said.

The letter also highlighted Manchester City’s work in the community that includes programmes to help combat obesity, improve fitness levels in children and tackle anti-social behaviour “because if we are not a positive part of Manchester and the other cities in which we live then we have failed”.

The letter thanked chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, the board, the executive leadership team “and every employee for creating such value over the last ten years”.

It follows Thursday’s announcement of profits of £10.4 million (Dh49.98m) in the club’s 2017/18 Annual Report, the fourth consecutive year of profitability.

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Read more on Manchester City 10-year Abu Dhabi anniversary

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Bernard Halford: Manchester City's Life President on the sweeping changes to club and community since Sheikh Mansour's takeover

WATCH: Manchester City's class of 2008 - the first match under Abu Dhabi ownership

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Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and owner of Manchester City Football Club, meets Pep Guardiola in Abu Dhabi, with Khaldoon Al Mubarak. Wam
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and owner of Manchester City Football Club, meets Pep Guardiola in Abu Dhabi, with Khaldoon Al Mubarak. Wam

Read the letter in full:

Dear fellow Manchester City fans,

It is now ten years since I joined with you in supporting this wonderful club and I wanted to mark that anniversary by writing to you directly, just as I did when the acquisition was completed and we began this journey.

We have come a long way since 2008 and it has been quite a ride. The transfer of Robinho, our first signing; the 2011 FA Cup, our first trophy for 35 years; our first Premier League title secured by ‘that goal’, and now two more; three League Cups; seven straight seasons in the Champions League; and last season, an array of records and a style of play that brings joy to anyone that truly loves this great game.

Whilst the last ten years has seen many things transformed and evolved in the way that I had hoped, and we planned for, one thing has remained constant - you have continued to be the best fans.

I want to take this opportunity to say that I am incredibly proud of the fact that the fundamental character of this Club and its supporters has not changed in the last decade. The qualities of loyalty, warmth, humour and humility which clearly stood it in good stead during its more challenging times, are still very much in evidence today and are essential to our success.

Equally important to me and the Board, has been the progress made beyond the senior first team. Our women’s team has won four major domestic trophies and joined the European elite, reaching the Uefa Champions League semi-finals for two consecutive seasons. Our youth system has seen more than 100 young men secure a career in professional football in the UK and overseas, nine of which have appeared in Manchester City’s first team. We have also established ten disability teams in Manchester. These teams, as with all of our other squads - male and female, at both youth and senior levels - train together at the same facilities at the City Football Academy, underpinning their aim for parity in playing the game we all love.

Our development has taken your club and its values to multiple cities around the world. Physically we have clubs in New York, Melbourne, Yokohama, Girona and Uruguay and additionally several offices around the world. We are also proud to be in the hearts of new fans in every country around the world. In a physical sense, we are the most global and at the same time local of football organisations. Importantly, all of our sister clubs are linked via City Football Group - a Manchester headquartered global network sharing values, knowledge, and best practice while at the same time having direct and positive impact on our extended family of communities, wherever they are in the world.

Off the field every metric indicates that acquiring City was a very good business decision. In 2015, the investment led by China Media Capital saw City Football Group valued at US$3bn, and this year, at Manchester City we have broken through the £500m revenue barrier and made a profit for the fourth consecutive year. The last ten years has seen us become economically scaled and sustainable as we had planned and that economic success is crucially important because it underpins everything else we do on the pitch and in our communities.

I want to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to the Chairman, the Board, the Executive leadership team and every employee for creating such value over the last ten years.

I have always said that football has a much bigger role to play than any normal “business”. I believe that through football we can help empower better lives for people. Not many organisations get to do that directly. Whether it be the simple joy of watching our beautiful game; helping combat obesity; improving fitness levels in children; supporting the battle to alleviate depression; combatting anti-social behavior; or sometimes just giving people a new sense of direction after a trauma or when they have lost their way. Football and football clubs not only have the power to do this, they have the responsibility to do so.

That is why I am so proud that we have been able to continue and expand on the work of City in the Community whose programmes address all of these challenges and more, because if we are not a positive part of Manchester and the other cities in which we live then we have failed.

So what do the next ten years hold? I know you all remain ambitious and so do I. It feels that we are only half way up our Everest. There is much more to do and there is much more to win. That is why you will continue to see us strive to recruit the very best talent into this club and its sister organisations in all functions and at all levels.

Khaldoon [Al Mubarak] and I know that we will not get everything right all the time. As we continue on this journey I would ask you to please always bear with us and please be assured that, even when we stumble, we will try to remain true to our values and to make you proud of what we do and how we do it on your behalf.

Over the last ten years I have learned a lot more about what it is to be a City fan. I understood quickly why 40 points is important - and why inflatable bananas (and now sharks!) still make an appearance. And whilst I don’t have a Lamborghini, I was very tempted to get one a few years ago. It has been a most enjoyable education for me.

That said, what I have always known is that players and management will come and go from our Club, but you the fans are permanent. I will not forget that. I hope you have enjoyed these last ten years and I promise the next ten will be no less exciting.

I am truly honoured to be one of you.

Yours,

Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan

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Read more:

Vincent Kompany interview: Abu Dhabi takeover transformed Manchester City overnight

Joleon Lescott interview: Reflecting on Manchester City's 2012 Premier League title triumph

Brian Marwood interview: Next decade is all about global expansion for Manchester City

A decade at Manchester City: 10 key moments since the Sheikh Mansour takeover

Where are they now? A look back at the Manchester City team 10 years ago after Sheikh Mansour's takeover

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