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By ESPN Staff
Sep 16, 2008

Hamann paints bleak picture for English game

Manchester City midfielder Dietmar Hamann has warned that English football is "walking on thin ice'' as money floods into the game.

The former Germany international is relishing the anticipated rush of new arrivals at City following the recent takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group.

Robinho became City's first major capture under the new regime when he joined for £32.5million on September 1, and more big names could follow the Brazilian to Eastlands in January as the club's ambitious owners target a host of world superstars.

But Hamann insists watching live matches must remain an affordable prospect for supporters, and clubs cannot afford to neglect their regular followers.

Speaking of City's new owners, he told German newspaper Die Welt: "It seems like these people have really big plans and the signs are good.''

He added: "We have been moving in circles which are very hard to even conceive.''

Discussing the changing state of the English game, he added: "It would be a shame if the normal family could no longer afford to go the stadium. The English are walking on thin ice.

"They cannot ignore the fans and they have got to be careful.''

Hamann, 35, spent enough time at his previous clubs Newcastle and Liverpool to appreciate how difficult it is to challenge for the Barclays Premier League title, even when money for big signings is available.

"You cannot buy success, but money certainly makes things easier,'' said Hamann.

"Take the example of Chelsea. Before Mr Abramovich arrived, they were only an average club and since then they have taken giant steps.

"The biggest challenge is to get a team on the field which pulls in the same direction and is not just a group of stars playing their own game.

"If we can avoid that, then Manchester City can catch up with the best teams in Europe and, maybe in five to 10 years, overtake them.''

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