20 February 2019
Manchester City claims a second Premier League title in three years. Photo: Reuters.
Manchester City claims a second Premier League title in three years. Photo: Reuters.

The Premier League business

Sunday night was a big win for Abu Dhabi but a tough loss for the United States, so much so that you wonder if any Europeans can beat Manuel Pellegrini’s men in the next two months.

Welcome to the season end of the English Premier League, the most international of competitions on the planet and one of the most widely watched forms of entertainment among Hongkongers.

Congratulations to Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi, the owner of Manchester City Football Club, which has taken the league trophy twice in the last three years — although the cheers would have been louder if Liverpool had prevailed.

The Abu Dhabi United Group bought the Sky Blues from former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra before the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008, and showed the world that Manchester United is the city’s second team in the post-Ferguson era.

It might be difficult for City to match United for popularity in Asia. But give them some time – we shall see who the fans really cheer for when the first Hong Kong-Manchester direct flights begin in December.

Both Manchester teams have two league titles each from the last five years but not so Liverpool Football Club, which came close to claiming its first league trophy in two decades. Liverpool had a pretty good run at it until two weeks ago when they lost 0-2 to Chelsea. We gather that many Standard Chartered staff, desperate for some good news after a disappointing year, had the champagne on ice in anticipation of a Liverpool win. Well, time will heal — for Liverpool and its sponsor bank.

Still, nobody can take anything away from US trader-cum-investor John Henry, arguably the world’s most successful sports club owner. He has managed to extract high returns on low budgets with a Moneyball style of management. If Henry’s three World Series titles with the Red Sox are any guide, Liverpool fans can rest assured that their team would be more successful than Arsenal, the league’s perennial bridesmaid.

But we all have much to look forward to. Only football has the kind of magic that keeps you awake in the dead of the night and gives you the power to push through till lunchtime. Let the countdown begin to the World Cup on June 13 — I guarantee it will be a better ride than the boring stock market.

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EJ Insight writer

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