I am sure Dr Sulaiman al Fahim and his Abu Dhabi United Group will have done the necessary research before their audacious raid on the English Premier League and Manchester City, but, as someone born and brought up in Manchester, I might be able to help with a little historical background. Manchester City, the investors should know, holds a very special place in the hearts of English football followers. Supporters owing no particular allegiance to Manchester or to City tend to wish the club well. One of the reasons is simply because City are not Manchester United.
Many British fans resent - and envy, it should be said - United's global dominance, and their highly successful but truculent manager; and any small victory by the Reds' rivals from across the city is greeted with joy nationwide. But the fund of goodwill towards City goes deeper than that. Supporting them has always been seen as a statement; a sign that entertainment means more to you than mere success. That is not to say that City play more entertaining football than United - which they clearly do not, just that the way the team have conducted their affairs in the past, on and off the pitch, has been more of a roller coaster ride than a steady canter towards football's glittering prizes.
I am sure it was meant affectionately when one journalist described City as "the longest running comedy act in British football", but those of us with no emotional attachment to the club find it difficult to suppress guffaws when City stumble into yet another crisis. They are a club where, in the past, "manager of the month" has not been so much an award, more a statement of policy. Twenty-seven coaches have been at the helm of City since the end of the Second World War, often leaving in bewilderment, to a chorus of "typical City". The reason given for the dismissal of one manager in the 1980s was that he had "no repartee with the crowd".
Rapport, I think, was the word intended, but it demonstrated the truth that City have been more of a fan-driven club than any other in Britain - maybe excluding Newcastle. City were one of the first their own fanzine, written by the supporters who also set a bizarre trend in the late 1980s for the appearance of huge inflatable toys at grounds. The inflatable banana was the surreal symbol of choice for City fans - leading to their player Imre Varadi being nicknamed Imre Banana - and other supporters followed. West Ham's wielded huge blow-up hammers, while those from the trawler town of Grimsby opted for fish.
On the pitch, City's golden period was in the late 1960s and early 70s when they briefly outshone United and had some of the most gifted players of the era. By 1998, though, they were in terminal decline, and became the first European trophy winners to fall into the third tier of English football. The match that won them promotion, a play-off at Wembley against unfashionable Gillingham, sums up what people mean by "typical City." With 86 minutes gone, City were 2-0 down and heading for maybe a decade of obscurity, but they got up off the ropes to grab an improbable draw, and an eventual victory on penalties.
At their lowest ebb, though, City's bedrock of support remained firm. Significantly, that support includes a number of showbusiness types, notably the Gallagher brothers from the band Oasis. The good news for ADUG is that these fans are welcoming the opportunity to rival Manchester United in Europe. As Noel Gallagher says: "Every gallon of petrol a Man United fan buys goes into Manchester City's transfer kitty."