x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

We won't pay crazy prices, says Manchester City chairman

Khaldoon al Mubarak says he would rather walk away from the table than pay over the odds.

Khaldoon al Mubarak, the Chairman of Manchester City FC, answers questions in his office at Al Mamoura building.
Khaldoon al Mubarak, the Chairman of Manchester City FC, answers questions in his office at Al Mamoura building.

ABU DHABI // Manchester City, the English football club owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, will not pay inflated transfer fees to clubs that see it as a deep-pocketed organisation owned by rich Arabs for whom money is no object, Khaldoon al Mubarak, its chairman, said yesterday.

In his most detailed interview since taking the job, Mr al Mubarak said he would rather walk away from the table than pay over the odds. Real Madrid's recent signing of Brazil's Kaká for £54.9 million (Dh330m) and the Portugal international Cristiano Ronaldo for £80 million smashed previous transfer records and seemed to belie the financial climate. Though City may have the spending power to eclipse Real's spree, Mr al Mubarak is refusing to be held to ransom by a perceived "City price" for players.

The club will buy four to six new players after purging the squad during the summer, he said, without naming transfer targets, "There are two things going on," Mr al Mubarak said during an interview with The National. "One, a general view of Arab investors and two, a whole hierarchy within football where there is a group of clubs that fall within the hierarchy and the clubs that fall outside don't have a seat at the table and shouldn't even demand one.

"I'm frustrated with people assuming we are going to throw crazy money at deals, that we won't understand true values and we can't negotiate or get value for a player. We've had numbers thrown at us that are a joke. "There are situations where a £10 million player will be offered to us for a 'City price' of £20 million. "We just leave because at that point there's no point arguing - if people are throwing crazy numbers at us, fine, deals won't be done."

Perceptions of Man City as a club run by extravagant Arabs were wide of the mark, he insisted. "Look at Sheikh Mansour; he's a very shrewd businessman who has conducted himself in a professional way. I will defend the value of every deal we have done. "Look at our Robinho deal. If he went in this transfer window for the same price [£32.5m] it would be a steal. Our deals to date presented fair value to the clubs we brought them from, fair value to us and are typical of the type of deals we are looking to make."

City made headlines in January when they attempted to lure Kaká to the Premier League. They were prepared to pay the same money as Real Madrid, yet Mr al Mubarak said perceptions of the clubs were very different. "When we looked at Kaká, the numbers being thrown around were crazy, suddenly in the news you see 'City are crazy' and 'City are irresponsible'. "Why is it when Real Madrid not only talks about but actually closes two deals, like the ones they've closed with the numbers they've committed to, it's fine?"

City will sign high-profile players this summer but most important to Mr al Mubarak is that decisions stem from the manager, Mark Hughes. "We will shrink our squad and add four to six players," he said. "Key for us is that we trust Mark and any acquisition is based on his view." stregoning@thenational.ae