Leading article: A triumph of the deepest pockets


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The Independent Online

Whether or not Manchester City win the Premier League today, the club's rise has been spectacular. When Sheikh Mansour took over, the team were languishing. Just four years later, their performance could not be more different. The secret? The £1bn that the Abu Dhabi billionaire has splashed out on players, with no thought for his spiralling losses.

A win for City would, therefore, be a triumph of the deepest pockets. It is worth noting, however, that even if they lose, City will only have been beaten by Manchester United, which just happens to be the richest club in the world. And next weekend's Champion's League final will see English football represented by Chelsea, owned by Roman Abramovich, who is also estimated to have spent £1bn on his team.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, next Saturday's Championship play-off between Blackpool and West Ham is worth £100m to the winner, thanks to their promotion to the TV-rights-funded Premiership. But for the loser, the outlook is rather bleaker: a second year out of the top league and a cut to the lucrative "parachute payments" that ease the blow, with all the implications that has for wage bills and future performance.

All of which only adds to the sense that winning and losing comes down to nothing more than who can pay. Where's the sport in that?