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on 28 August 2012
Being one of the many suffering and miserable City fans over the years, the sudden success with the F.A Cup victory then the unbelievable climax to last seasons Premier League was a massive lift to us all.
The story of that success; Thaskin Shinawatra buying the club, injecting millions that maybe were not his to inject, then the take over by one of the worlds richest men and the subsequent huge financial outlay - well we all know the story don't we? Whether you are a City fan trying to justify it or an angry fan of another club accusing City of buying success and killing football, its still a fascinating story.
And so I approached this book hoping for some insight into whats gone on at City to get to this point and yes you do get that. But it all becomes rather swamped under the 'money and business' side of it all.
I loved the Authors reminisces about growing up with City, the ruining of a very promising club by Peter Swales the Chairman and Malcolm Allison the returning hero and the eventual drop from top flight to obscurity, but so much more could and should have been written about it all. Where are the interviews with former managers? God knows there was enough of them!
I'm sorry but I found as the Author got deeper and deeper into the ins and outs of club takeovers etc I got more and more bored and found myself skipping pages just to find bits I could understand.
One thing I did learn from it all is yes City (and some other clubs too) ARE killing football and its really hard to face up to that. Like the Author I have fallen a bit out of love with the club now and if I'm honest - top flight football in general.
If you are looking for nostalgia and ultimate triumph as I was then you may be disappointed with this book, but if you want a big bite of a reality sandwich and want to know whats REALLY going on in the Premier League then give it a go. But you may end up cancelling your Sky sports and going to support a local team instead....
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on 26 June 2012
Over the last decade, David Conn has established himself as the pre-eminent journanlist and commentator on football in England. He's exposed countless acts of skuldugery and championed the cause of the silent majority. Raised on football and now forced to consume an expensive diet of hype and badly made replica shirts, his articles and this book are the antidote to all that overhyped, overpriced nonsense. This book touchingly, adds in his personal memories of growing up a football fan, plain and simple. How can I put this? The best book you will ever read on football. He speaks with common sense, passion and a crtical eye that the media do their best to cover up.
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on 4 August 2012
i am a united fan and i loved this book - i didnt become a united fan because they won everything - if you are over forty you can remember the docherty / sexton / atkinson and early ferguson years when we were 'fourth in a two horse race'. This book is about why you fell in love with football as a FAN in the first place and why you dont feel it fulfills the same place in your heart, no matter which club you support. if your club is now owned by someone who puts money ahead of glory (nearly every club) then you will recognise a lot of your own life in this.
Even worse - if you are an ex=player from prior to the premier league era, you will probably cry. great reading.
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When Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany lifted the Premier League trophy in May, he celebrated the end of a 44-year barren spell since City won their last league title. But not just that - it marked the fulfilment of a billionaire Arab's quest to take over a football club and make them the best in the land.

The intervening years between the halcyon days of Maine Road heroes Bell, Lee and Summerbee, and the epic drama of Sergio Aguero's late winner at the Etihad Stadium were fraught with moments referred to by long-suffering fans as `Typical City'. From the disastrous return of Malcolm Allison as manager to the second coming of Francis Lee in a director's seat and the open-armed welcome to Thai human rights abuser Thaksin Shinawatra and his (ultimately fictitious) riches, Manchester City's history has been littered with false dawns.

And City's continued association with the tragicomic and their long-standing blight of living in the shadow of their illustrious and successful neighbours Manchester United made them an intriguing enough story even before the riches of Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour made them the world's wealthiest club.

Guardian sports writer David Conn, a Manchester City fan since the early seventies and a specialist on the topic of football finance, is expertly placed to write about their new fiscal luxury. He does so by alternating between his insights of the present-day City and his own emotional experiences as an embattled Manchester City supporter.

Ever the intrepid reporter (Conn is considered an `international enemy of Leeds United' by their chairman Ken Bates for his foraging into the club's ownership), Conn is able to give the audience a rare glimpse of the human side of the Arab takeover through interviews with Chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, and Director of Football, Brian Marwood.

What really engages though is the way Conn speaks of his early days as a supporter on the Maine Road terraces and his battle to remain passionate in his support for his club in more money-driven times.

Conn's fervour and dedication to football comes over expressively throughout, and `Richer Than God' is an honest and moving account of his relationship with the game. The book spans the evolution of a football club, and the sport itself, over 40 years and showcases Conn's talents as one of the top football writers of the moment. And, thanks to Manchester City's last-gasp title win, it even has a happy ending too.
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on 6 June 2012
Through his regular column in The Guardian and two previous books David Conn has over the years established himself as the pre-eminent writer about the business of football and by virtue of his well researched pleas for financial openness and best practice and his unerring ability to expose financial misappropriation, charlatans and frauds, Conn has been a seemingly lone voice of reason in a mad world seemingly populated by egomaniacs and billionaires (both real and imaginary).

Quercus Publishing has now come up with a real winner and a thirty yard volley into the top corner as behind his outward appearance of wearing a hair shirt of fiscal responsibility and crusading zeal, David Conn has revealed himself for what he really is - a true football fan, and irony of ironies as a life-long supporter of money-bags Manchester City!

This is a love story, warts and all, of a young boy's introduction to his local team and takes us through the ups and downs of the club tied in with a social history of Manchester itself and the trials and tribulations of a working class upbringing in the 1970s.

Whilst heroes such as Colin Bell, Joe Corrigan and Willie Donachie receive their full share of praise, Conn is not slow to point figures regarding the long-term decline of the club and its fall from the heady days of success in the late 60s to becoming known as "the club for cock-ups".

Conn places the club's fortunes firmly within the wider context of the game at large and takes the reader through the magical transformation of Manchester City to its current status as perhaps the richest club in the world and forensically details how Sheikh Mansour's wealth has paved the way to the first Championship success since 1968.

Conn goes behind the scenes and gets close to the action interviewing many of the main protagonists but never loses sight of the fact that football is the peoples' game and takes us on a fascinating detour into what lay behind the foundation of FC Manchester.

No hagiography this as Conn takes issue and allocates blame where and when it is necessary and is never afraid to ask the tough question but his true love for the game in general and Manchester City in particular shines through and this book is a well-written and informed delight and Conn makes a good case for why he would venture that "the football religion is stronger than real religion".
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on 31 March 2015
Came to "Richer Than God" having read Conn's seminal "The Beautiful Game?". Whereas his first book takes a broad view across the English game, "Richer Than God" journals a personal journey through David's relationship with City and all that it stands for, culminating in the unease of a title conquest funded by Arab petrodollars whilst realising things could have been worse: it could have been the Glazers...
Conn is candid throughout, even touching upon his relationship with his "other faith" - Judaism. It's a journey of discovery, of realisation that 'clubs' are actually 'companies' and all that that entails for how they are run. I'm not a City fan (I'm a Blade: United are also owned by a Sheik, but he's yet to throw quite as much money at us...), but that didn't hamper my enjoyment in the slightest.
By the end of the journey, Conn is not the enthusiastic City fan of days of yore: he's discovered too much about the beautiful game in general and his own club in particular. But he's still a fan. Just a tad older and wiser... and the latter is not always a good thing. Especially where the simplest, most instinctive and intuitive of sports is concerned.
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on 6 August 2012
This is a well reseached book which outlines the history, development and disasters (of which there have been many in both human and financial terms)of the game of assocation football. It is also a story about the greed and vanity of the owners of the clubs and FA members, many of whom seem to do more for themselves than the development of the game or its supporters.

Having coached junior teams on poor pitches with inadequate facilities I was well aware of the lack of funds at the junior levels and accepted the fact that there was no finacial drip down factor from the mega funds at the top level of the game.It would appear that the beautiful game designed for the working classes was hijacked by people looking to make quick money without the correct goverance from the governing bodies, as most of them had a vested interest in keeping the money for themselves. Although, there have been owners who have given generously to the "clubs they have loved", like Jack Wakler at Blackburn many others have critised players for being greedy when they have been taking money out clubs for their own personal gain.

The insight of the takeover at Manchester City was informative and it would seem on the evidence so far that the new owners are investors rather than asset strippers which is more than can be said for their near neighbours. Although the City owners are using the "brand" for business reasons they at least seem to have a long term objective (at least until 2030)and are investing in the club infrasture and local community unlike many other owners.

I would recommend this book as it is not only informative about the everyday running of football clubs as businesses but David Conn adds grass root personal experinces which most fans and amateur players will relate too.
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VINE VOICEon 18 July 2012
I admit that I am a proud Manchester City supporter, still relishing the taste of being Premier League Champions at long last, but with many more battle scars from the years of disappointment and failure. And so I was always bound to love this account of my club's history by Guardian journalist David Conn. But this book is much more than a supporter's handbook - it is a serious look at the politics and, perhaps more to the point, the economics behind our beloved beautiful game.

Only Manchester City fans can tell tales quite like this - of the ups and downs we have had in the past couple of decades supporting our glorious club, and Conn, a true blue since boyhood, is very good on the detail, told with humour and heart. The promotions, successive relegations, sell outs, buy outs, stars and flops are all here. Only my club with our famous Joe Royle coined disease, Cityitis, could have made such hard work of things. Conn is very good, for example, on the massive let down that was Franny Lee, who came back like a knight in shining armour as a star of our past, only to sell `our best players to pay for restaurants.' And as someone who was part of the Kippax sit-in to get rid of the hated former Chairman Peter Swales, that particular piece of disloyalty and greed still cuts deep with me.

But Conn is also very concerned with the overtaking of the whole national game, not just Manchester City, by money men who can buy and sell clubs, can load them with debt to finance personal fortunes, and who are collectively raising ticket prices and ruining its soul, for this author at any rate. It is very well written and well argued. And with the tragedy of Rangers unbelievably unravelling not so far away over the border, it could not be timelier.

Conn is one of those City supporters who lost their way and stopped believing religiously in their club, as these changes in the game occurred. This is perhaps understandable for a journalist who has to cultivate an altogether more dispassionate viewpoint. I wish all our clubs could be collectively and communally owned like in Germany or the mighty Barcelona, but they are not and I cannot see that happening any time soon. So I am not sorry that my club has been bought by a rich sheik - and I defy football fan of other clubs in our position to spurn the riches, and yes the success, which we enjoy now (although of course many say they would).

And although I have never stopped believing, and still get the same buzz out of the roar of the crowd at the Etihad as I did when I first went to Maine Road over twenty years ago, this is still a book to really appreciate. Obviously it will appeal to City fans, but I do hope that other people concerned about the future of football, and its place in the fabric of our society, will read it too. Now roll on the start of the season...
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on 28 September 2012
I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. Mainly for two reasons .

Firstly Conn made all sorts of emotional connections with me , as someone perhaps a little bit younger but who lived through some of the dross city served up in the early 80s and beyond. Being a city fan often seemed a chore, I remember the anger I felt as City lost the 1981 cup final , so much so that I quickly turned to itv to check the result was the same on both channels ...and yes it was. However the anger was tinged by the feeling that we'd be back ...I lost my faith well before they were . Conns North manchester was also my playground and so I had a journey back in time.thanks.

The second and more compelling reason to non 40 year old north mancunian city fans is his expert analysis of the clubs financial record. I was expecting the usual bla bla , rich investors ruin the game ..it's not like that. What Conn shows is how the poor governance and venture capitalist attitudes of Swales , Lee and their backers put food and interest payments above the football and the club. They killed it. He is also shrewd enough to detail that without the city councils gift of the east lands stadium no big investor would have come near them. Incidentally if I was a manchester rate payer I'd have some serious questions still .

This book will be a classic primer in football mismanagement for a long time.
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VINE VOICEon 2 September 2012
A worthy addition to the ranks of well-written sporting memoirs, all the better for its author being a lawyer/journalist, with a very easy turn of phrase, who has lost some of his love for the beautiful game at the top level.

In a work which is part autobiography, part polemic, part subjective chronicle of the ups and downs of Manchester City, Conn provides an incisive examination of the way in which football clubs have increasingly turned themselves into out-and-out businesses and does not stint in charting his own progressive disillusion as he came to that realisation in the course of his research into football's often murky financial affairs.

However, this is not the work of a grumpy old man harking back to the good old days; instead, Conn is generous in his understanding of the joy of his fellow Manchester City supporters when they won the Premier League in 2012, and clearly regrets that he no longer has that visceral feeling himself.

His training in the law enables him to unpick complex concepts and his easy to read style will illuminate those concepts for the layman. His examination of the role of Brian Marwood as director of football is an object class in clarity and will enlighten a generation of supporters who are often confused by the structures in the modern game.
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