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By ESPN Staff

Abu Dhabi Group on verge of City deal

Prospective new Manchester City owner Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim believes only 'formalities' remain before Abu Dhabi United Group can rubber-stamp their takeover of the Premier League club.

Al-Farim's group has agreed to acquire a majority stake in City, subject to due diligence, from Thaksin Shinawatra, who will remain on the club's board as a shareholder and honorary president.

And they quickly demonstrated their desire for Champions League qualification by lodging bids for Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov and also Spain forward David Villa and Stuttgart's Mario Gomez.

The bid to nick Berbatov from under the noses of rivals Manchester City always looked an outside bet at best but Al-Farim believes the transfer bids show the new owners are 'serious'.

'I am hopeful about Berbatov, but I need to speak to our colleagues in England to see what the latest is,' he said.

'We have bids in for three players. There is Berbatov, but there is also David Villa and Mario Gomez. We have bids in for Villa and Gomez and I am waiting to hear whether we have been successful with those (offers).

'Funds are available, and transfers such as these show we are serious.'

Al-Farim confirmed that ADUG had also considered investing in City's Premier League rivals Arsenal, Newcastle and Liverpool before deciding to press ahead with a buy-out - thought to be worth around £150million - of the Eastlands outfit.

'It is really about formalities,' Al-Farim, referring to the due diligence process, said. 'It is more about securing approval from the authorities in England, such as the Premier League.

'I don't foresee any problems with the club itself. I need to check my diary and come over to England as soon as possible so I can meet people from the Premier League.

'We were attracted to the Premier League itself, and Arsenal, Newcastle and Liverpool were also possibilities.

'We are very happy to become the new owners of Manchester City, one of the oldest clubs in England.'

The Premier League has to give the takeover the go-ahead, and will carry out their standard fit and proper persons test of Al-Farim, who is a billionaire property developer.

Al-Farim will focus his efforts on putting together a new board at Eastlands, and he suggested that a former player, who enjoys a good rapport with the fans, could be appointed.

'We need to bring in several top board members over the next three or four months, and they will be able to help,' he added.

'Thaksin Shinawatra will be a board member, and will still be a shareholder of the club.

'We also would like to bring in people who have a good knowledge of the English market, and maybe someone who the fans will appreciate. We have to be careful to bring in the right people.'

Al-Farim said that he was unable to publicly reveal financial details of the takeover or the stake Shinawatra would retain in the club.

A statement released earlier in the day on behalf of ADUG said that Shinawatra would be 'without any administrative responsibilities'.

This afternoon, the club stated that a 'Memorandum of Understanding' had been signed with ADUG.

The statement from the club added: 'A period of due diligence for all parties, including the FA Premier League has now been entered.'

Thaksin tonight welcomed the investment and revealed his hope for 'great things' from the new alliance.

'I am delighted to be building this new partnership with Abu Dhabi United, who share my vision for Manchester City to join the top tier of British football brands on an international stage,' he said.

'With Mark Hughes at the helm and and some strong player signings the Club is very well positioned for this season and beyond.

'I look forward to this new partnership delivering great things for Manchester City fans.'

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