Eastlands chairman Thaksin Shinawatra has revealed his ambitious plans to create a string of Manchester City academies across Asia.

The City supremo made a personal address to City fans on Wednesday detailing his dream of making the Blues a dominant global force.

Thaksin has already made quite an impression since arriving at the City of Manchester Stadium in July and, with Sven-Goran Eriksson’s side sat third in the Premier League, optimism at the club could not be higher.

An integral aspect of Thaksin’s strategy is to be in a position to bring the cream of Asia’s young talent to the club.

And he has used the successful transition of City’s Chinese defender Sun Jihai to English football as an example for young Asian stars to aspire to.

He told the club’s official website: “I plan eventually to establish Manchester City Football Club academies in Asia, firstly in my home nation of Thailand, then in China.

“The Academies are designed to identify and foster talented Asian youth and give them new opportunities in life through the beautiful game of football.

“Manchester City is leading the way in tapping into the reservoir of football talent in Asia. One of my particular hopes is that young Asian players, who show great promise, can find a life in professional football through Manchester City.

“It’s my hope that they will become as famous in their own country as our City star Sun Jihai is to China and that young Chinese prospects will follow his shining example.

“Jihai has helped City become a better known club in China.

Thaksin also revealed how he is hopeful Eriksson will sign Asian players in the near future but insists he will not bring them to the club unless they are good enough.

He said: “For the moment, I’m doing my best to persuade Sven to sign Asian players. But, let me be clear, Sven signs no one unless they are good enough to play for Manchester City.

“I want young players from all over the world, particularly young Asian players, to aspire to play for City and we must develop the structure and means for them to do so.”

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Thaksin eyes Asian player boost

Last Updated: Thu, 15 Nov 2007 11:03

Man City owner Thaksin Shinawatra says Sven Goran Eriksson has the last word over transfers but that Asian players will be in the mix.

Thaksin has bankrolled the Blues up to third place in the Premiership table since taking over in the summer and he plans to spend again in the January transfer window.

But despite the former Thai Prime Minister’s dream of bringing the cream of Asian players to Eastlands, he says they will only be signed if they are good enough and it Eriksson wants them.

He told the club’s website: “For the moment, I’m doing my best to persuade Sven to sign Asian players. But, let me be clear, Sven signs no one unless they are good enough to play for Manchester City.

“I want young players from all over the world, particularly young Asian players, to aspire to play for City and we must develop the structure and means for them to do so.”

Guardian Unlimited

Eriksson’s Thai visit draws more guards than fans

BANGKOK, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Manchester City coach Sven-Goran Eriksson arrived in Bangkok on Thursday to raise the team’s profile in Asia, but there were fewer club fans to greet him than security guards and supporters of owner Thaksin Shinawatra.

Eriksson was whisked from the arrival hall to a luxury German sedan by at least two dozen airport guards and security men who had guarded Thaksin until he was ousted as prime minister in a bloodless coup last year.

About 50 cameramen and photographers jostled to film him.

A few supporters wearing the sky blue shirts of the English Premier League club were outnumbered by a handful of hardcore Thaksin fans wearing T-shirts bearing his picture.

The shirts bore the slogan “We love Thaksin, await his return”. He has lived in exile in London since his overthrow.

Eriksson, in a blue shirt and a blue-and-yellow tie bearing a Thai royal emblem, said nothing to waiting reporters.

On Friday, he is due to sign at least one Thai international player for Manchester City. Suree Sukha, a 25-year-old attacking fullback who earns just $300 a week in the domestic league, would the first Thai to join a top-flight European club.

Along with fellow Thais Kiatprawut Saiwaeo and Teerasil Dangda, Suree was invited for trials at City by Thaksin after he bought the club in July for 81 million pounds ($166.5 million).

Thaksin’s critics have dismissed the City takeover and the club’s interest in Thai players as publicity stunts aimed at helping the billionaire tycoon return to politics.

Thaksin’s son, Panthongthae, who is fighting tax fraud charges, flew into Bangkok with Eriksson. (Reporting by Noppawan Bunluesilp; writing by Nopporn Wong-Anan, editing by Michael Battye and Roger Crabb)