While Manchester City may have had their best season for some time, a solitary flag and power-hungry former prime minister could be about to spoil the party.
Firstly, the flag. Someone took a Thai flag with them to Manchester and hung it up at the City of Manchester Stadium. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but the flag bore the name of Thaksin Shinawatra, Man City’s crazed owner, who is also the former prime minister of Thailand.
What could have been brushed off as a minor incident has been propelled into the limelight and extorted into a full-blown national crisis. Thai authorities apparently have “an idea” whom the flag belonged to, said Prime Minister’s Office Minister Jakrapob Penkair.
An “ill-intentioned people” group of people have set out to ruin the country by hanging a flag bearing Thaksin’s name. Right.
Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said, “It is inappropriate. It must not happen again.”
Under Article 53 of the 1979 Flag Act, affixing pictures, letters, numbers or other symbols upon the national flag is against the law with a maximum penalty of a year in jail and/or a 2,000 baht fine.
In Thailand, sure, that holds some weight, but in Manchester?
Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama somehow drew the conclusion that the flag was the work of football fans. At a football match? Surely not!
According to The Nation, Manchester City has apparently posted warnings on the club website urging people not to take Thai flags bearing Thaksin’s names to matches. I could find reference to no such warnings on the Man City website. I also couldn’t find anything on the Thai-language version of the website. (Bangkok Post)
I pose this question to Man City bloggers and fans: how do you feel about being told what to do? Man City fans have, allegedly, been warned about this flag incident. Will you respect those warnings or do you think the Thai government has turned a harmless situation into a farce?
I suspect, heaven forbid, that at future Man City games, there may be numerous flags bearing Thaksin’s names. Theoretically, of course, this would protest not only the Thai government’s overbearing response to the incident, but also, Thaksin’s ham-fisted attempt at dealing with club affairs.
Man City did well this season, finishing in the top half of the table. They started strong and only faltered in the second half of the season. However, Thaksin’s meddling ways have cast a shadow over any good that may have been done. His decision to sack Sven at the end of the season won’t be reversed, despite protests from all corners.
Now, Thaksin faces a mutiny as his team’s top stars have rightly decided that they will follow Sven out of Manchester. The friction stems from Thaksin deciding to take transfers out of Sven’s hands, despite a pre-season promise that all transfers would be Sven’s call. (The Sun)
Thaksin now wants to bring in Jose Mourinho to replace Sven.
The players, the fans, the club’s management are all behind Sven; Thaksin is the one with the problem. to further confuse the issue, Thakin's son has been quoted as saying that Sven will lead Man City on their tour of Asia this summer, which includes a stop-off at Koh Samui.
As I said, it would be a real shame to see any more flags at Man City games this season.