Feeds

Burmese junta strongman considered buying Manchester United

Wikileaks bonkersness will plainly never, ever stop

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

The leader of the Burmese military junta seriously considered a $1bn bid for Manchester United in January 2009.

The Asian republic was coping with the aftermath of cyclone Nargis (which killed around 140,000) at the time, but Than Shwe, commander of the armed forces in the south-east Asian state, was urged by his grandson to mount a takeover bid for the football club they both supported.

The bizarre putative takeover bid - an apparent attempt to divert attention from the country's growing economic and military problems - was recorded thanks to a cable from the US embassy in Rangoon, and leaked via Wikileaks.

Than Shwe balked at the Man Utd bid which might "look bad" in favour of the creation of a national football league.

"One well-connected source reports that the grandson wanted Than Shwe to offer $1bn for Manchester United," the June 2009 cable to Washington said, The Guardian reports. "The senior general thought that sort of expenditure could look bad, so he opted to create for Burma a league of its own."

The general then set about bullying eight leading businessmen into spending huge sums on buying imported players and building new stadiums in return for favourable treatment in government contracts. The general's grandson was to be offered a place in the squad in one of the teams, as part of the fantastically corrupt scheme that has never amounted to much.

The frequent intersection between football and politics is itemised at some length in the Guardian's story. Our personal favourite is that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly hired spies to keep tabs on key football players, and personally fired national team coach coach Ali Daei after a defeat to Saudi Arabia - a move that reportedly went down badly with fans who protested at a later game.

Perhaps in a move to win back the dressing room, Ahmadinejad let the team fly to an away fixture in North Korea using his private jet.

The timing of all this isn't specified but it sounds very much like the 2010 World Cup qualifying competition, which eventually saw North Korea travel to South Africa as one of the region four representatives. South Korea qualified from the same group, which also featured Iran and Saudi Arabia. ®

Bootnotes

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra bought Manchester City in June 2007 prior to a sale of the club to Abu Dhabi United Group in September the following year, pocketing a healthy profit of an estimated £200 million in the process. He was welcomed by fans at the club at first, but relationship soon soured. The purchase is regarded by critics as a failed attempt by the controversial businessman turned politician to divert attention from his political problems.

After personally witnessing Michael Knighton, dressed in full Man Utd kit, playing keep-up in front of the Stretford End to publicise a failed takeover bid back in 1989, we'd believe almost anyone could take over the club - except Osama bin Laden (who famously supports Arsenal), obviously.

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'
Spooks ask Dabbsy to suggest a nice hotel with pool
Russia sends SEX-CRAZED GECKOS to SPAAAAACE!
In space... no one can hear you're green...
Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil
'Midas World' vision suggests you retire later, watch more tellie and buy more stuff
Yahoo! Japan! launches! service! for! the! dead!
If you're reading this email, I am no longer alive
Plucky Rockall podule man back on (proper) dry land
Bold, barmy Brit adventurer Nick Hancock escapes North Atlantic islet
Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo
'FIRE' caption on dashboard prompts dunderheaded hard shoulder halt
OKCupid: OK, STUPID, yes we set you up with BAD DATES on purpose
Tests show 'myth of compatibilty as good as truth'
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.