Leading Article: Football crazy

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The Independent Online

If you want a snapshot of how radically top-level English club football has changed in recent years, look no further than the history of Manchester City.

A decade ago, the club was owned by a local lad named Francis Lee, a former City striker who went on to become a successful toilet paper manufacturer. Fast forward a decade and City has just been offloaded by the former prime minister of Thailand to a man known as the "Donald Trump of Abu Dhabi". A week ago, the club seemed to be broke. But yesterday, its new owners put in a record bid in an audacious attempt to pluck a player from the grasp of their great rivals, Manchester United.

Such dramatic twists are, of course, yet more evidence that England's most famous football clubs have become the playthings of a class of international, super rich, investors.

Not that the fans seem unhappy with the trend at the moment, but one cannot help wonder how long the somewhat surreal merry-go-round can continue turning. And will even Mr Lee be able to satisfy the demand for tissues if it all ends in tears?