Manchester City’s stunning move to acquire Robinho from Real Madrid might only be the start of new owners Abu Dhabi United Group Investment and Development Limited going crazy on the transfer market. “Cristiano Ronaldo has said he wants to play for the biggest club in the world, so we will see in January if he is serious,” sneered Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim on Tuesday, to which the Guardian’s Martina Hyde responds, “With luck, there is something of the satirist to Dr Al Fahim, and he will go on to make ever more outlandish “statements of intent”, perhaps outlining plans to purchase Rupert Murdoch for use as the club mascot, or acquiring Warren Buffett to man one of the Eastlands pie vans.”
Tellingly, Dr Al Fahim already fronts one loss leader for the emirate, and so it is that Manchester City football club (est 1880) finds itself in the esteemed company of a reality TV show. And their shared frontman speaks about both of his properties in decidedly similar terms, recently declaring that “the second season of Hydra Executives will once again highlight the promising prospects in Abu Dhabi as a key destination for entertainment, real estate and tourism sectors”.
Hydra Executives appears to be loosely modelled on The Apprentice, with Dr Al Fahim in the Surallan role, though the prize of a $1m business grant does make the chance to work in Sugar’s post-room look like rather small beer. At present, the show is aired in Abu Dhabi, but according to a February declaration of the credible Dr Al Fahim, he was “finalising deals with leading television and media networks in Los Angeles and London”. As for which UK channel won what must have been a hotly contested bidding war … to put it tactfully, no transmission date is yet scheduled. And yet, one can’t help thinking these stalled negotiations are a blessing in disguise.
Given the shared aims between the two ventures – both TV show and football club exist for the glorification of the emirate – would it not make sense for the good doctor to fuse them, and immediately begin shooting a reality series focusing on Manchester City?
Certainly, the plotlines the new owners have already sketched out for the club make it ideal for this most spirit-warming modern medium. The show – call it Manchester Dhabi – could run along standard lines, with team-mates set a variety of amusing tasks, such as finishing in the top four of the Premier League, or enticing Cristiano Ronaldo to join without being able to promise him Champions League football, or stimulating $2bn property investment in Abu Dhabi, at the same time as distracting from its human rights record.