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The petrodollar derby


Tonight's Champions League game between Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain is more than a clash between teams representing two major European cities.   It is also has a geopolitical dimension, built around Arab oil wealth.   It is Qatar versus Abu Dhabi, the al-Thani family versus the al-Nahyan family.

Dr Christopher Davison, a reader in Middle East Politics at Durham University, has described the acquisitions of City and PSG as part of 'soft power' strategies ('hard power' is generally associated with military might).

He told The Times, ''[These strategies include] the purchase of headline-grabbing sport or cultural assets, which weren't intended to provide a return on investment but were intended to build influence ... [as Abu Dhabi and Qatar] sought to project their different visions for the future of the Gulf.'

Asked whether the investments had delivered the desired effect, he replied, 'Both seem to have delivered such soft power dividends, along with promotion of the non-hydrocarbon sectors of their respective economies, for example tourism and real estate.   The acquisitons of these clubs provided advertising opportunities and helped promote an image of Qata and UAE as safe investment destinations.'

The clubs had similar revenues in 2014-5, £365.8m at PSG and £352.6m at Manchester City.  They were ranked 4th and 6th in the Deloitte rich list respectively.   PSG have spent £418m on transfers since being taken over, while Manchester City have spent £879.5m, but they were acquired three years before PSG.