City appoint Dolphins’ man to board

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The Independent Football

Manchester City's transformation from the rainy city's other team into an international sporting property was underlined last night with the appointment to its board of one of New York's leading property lawyers, fresh from helping tie up the £316m purchase of the Miami Dolphins.

Like many of those now at the City helm, Martin ("Marty") Edelman does not appear to have any grounding in British football. But he did help the Dolphins' new owner Stephen Ross buy 50 per cent of the American football franchise and land surrounding it in February and his appointment illustrates the belief of new City owner Sheikh Mansour al Nahyan that the development of a business like the Dolphins can be replicated at City.

Edelman's Dolphins experience is considered to be more relevant to his appointment than his specialism in complex, multi-national property deals, which might lead some fans to believe that he is in place to oversee ambitious development plans on the land surrounding City's ground, now vacant after plans for a supercasino to be built on it were halted by the government But Edelman, described by one New York property magazine as "one of the top real estate attorneys in the city", would be an asset should the Arabs decide that they wish to develop that site. Two of Edelman's recent projects – advising on a $600m (£352m) land deal in Manhattan and the purchase of a major Broadway freehold – give him the experience to pilot the £300m purchase and development of the 38-acre former supercasino site near the City of Manchester Stadium which the city council envisages generating £500m for the city's economy in its first 10 years.

Edelman appears to be the Arabs' appointment, rather than being an individual known previously to City's executive chairman Garry Cook. But his arrival at City adds to the non-footballing dimension of the club's plans, which have also seen Cook outline a brand strategy which envisages the Manchester City brand spawning cars and retail outlets using the club's name

The former supercasino site is a substantial investment opportunity for the Arabs, should they take it up. Manchester city council and local regeneration agency New East Manchester are looking for development proposals for the plot – a "prior information notice" recently issued by the council revealing that a £300m investment was being sought to create a venue "of world-class content, animated both day and night throughout the year", generating around three million additional visitors a year and £500m revenue over a decade.

Documents filed at Companies House on Friday reveal that Edelman is one of three new directors of the club, alongside Sheikh Mansour's personal representative, and English expatriate Simon Pearce, strategic communications director of the Executive Affairs Authority, a policy arm of the Abu Dhabi government. He has been appointed as a trusted adviser to Abu Dhabi. The third, Victor Restis, is the representative of Thaksin Shinawtra who sold to the Arabs but retains a 10 per cent share in the club.

It is out with the old at City, too. Five Thai directors – Thaksin, his daughter Pinthongta, son Panthongtae, sister Yingluck and Sasin Monvoisin have now quit the board. Bryan Bodek, who joined the board in 2000 after BSkyB bought a 9.95 per cent stake, has also left.

Meanwhile, manager Mark Hughes has revealed that midfielder Michael Johnson is having yoga sessions in a bid to cure his nagging pelvic problems which have limited him to 36 league starts in two years.

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