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Barca attack picking up steam

Barcelona 9 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Nov 20, 2007

Thaksin rival strikes deal with Everton

BANGKOK, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Soccer seeped deeper into the veins of Thai politics on Tuesday as the Democrat Party, rival of Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra, announced a deal with English Premier League club Everton to coach young players. The move by the City of Bangkok, run by Thailand's oldest political party, came days after Manchester City's signing of three Thai players in the capital, dominated by a video address from Thaksin, the former prime minister ousted in a coup last year. Staff from Everton, one of two Premiership clubs in the English city of Liverpool, are due in Bangkok next month to start designing a series of soccer clinics to be held by April. 'This isn't about a counter attack. Our bid to build ties with the City of Liverpool coincided with the Man City deal,' Deputy Bangkok Governor Buddhipong Punnakanta told Reuters. The Everton-sponsored soccer schools should be up and running before those promised by Manchester City, which has also pledged to invest time and resources in Thai soccer. Thaksin insists his $164 million purchase of Manchester City in July was inspired purely by his passion for the sport, but it has proved a cunning way of keeping in with the soccer-mad Thai public. Although his hugely popular Thai Rak Thai party has been disbanded since the coup and 111 of its top members barred from politics, it remains a potent force in the form of a spin-off called the People Power Party (PPP). Most analysts and polls predict that PPP will win the most seats in the election thanks to solid Thaksin support in the rural heartlands of the northeast. However, it is unlikely to get an outright majority and the generals who led the coup -- and who stand to lose a great deal if PPP gets into power as a Thaksin proxy -- are expected to make it very difficult for PPP to form a coalition.