Macclesfields own Middle Eastern backers contemplate a Cup run


first_imgShares00 news Reuse this content A club with a long and proud tradition in the north-west is taken over by rich ­Middle Eastern owners. Sound familiar? With the January transfer window about to open, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this very modern football tale relates to the petrodollar-flush burghers in the blue half of Manchester. But this is the story of the lesser-known takeover at nearby Maccles­field Town.The Silkmen take on Everton this Saturday in the FA Cup third round, having undergone their own Middle Eastern revolution. In 2003 Macclesfield were in deep trouble, 23rd in League Two and sporting the lowest average attendances in league football before help came from an unlikely quarter. In stepped Bashar and Amar al Khadi, two London-based Iraqi Kurd tele­coms entrepreneurs whose family left Iraq and settled in the UK in the late 70s.”We were looking to get into football and my sister-in-law was one of the biggest fans of Macclesfield,” Bashar al Khadi says. “The more we looked into it, the more I wanted to get involved. We were in danger of getting relegated. But then I got hooked, addicted. It really is a labour of love.”Immediately the al Khadi influence was felt. The club’s yo-yoing finances were stabilised, relegation was avoided and plans were mooted for a move to a new home away from Macclesfield Town’s historic but unsuitable Moss Rose stadium.”The main problem we faced was that we’re the smallest club in the league and in our catchment area you have Manchester United and City,” al Khadi admits. “We can’t compete with them, but we would like us to be everyone’s second team. Now we cut our cloth accordingly. Our turnover is less than £2m but the club now knows what is going in, what is going out and where it’s headed.”Although al Khadi will not mention any figures, it is thought that Bashar and his brother have invested up to £4m. Now the club, in al Khadi’s words “don’t owe anything to anyone. We are totally debt-free.” That and a string of high-profile moves – like inviting the Iraq national team to play in Macclesfield and the short-lived signing of the Iraq international Jassim Swadi Fayadh – have made the al Khadi brothers a rare phenomenon: lower-league owners beloved by their fans.Macclesfield lie 14th in League Two, nine points from a play-off place. But as important as promotion is, the FA Cup is a godsend. Income from this weekend’s game, al Khadi explains, could be the difference between bringing in a few fresh faces for their promotion push or sinking back into the relegation mire.They are not problems that Sheikh Mansour, the Emirati owner of Manchester City, is likely to face. For al Khadi the involvement of rich benefactors from the Middle East should be encouraged and not viewed with suspicion. “Dubai’s interest in Liverpool and the Manchester City takeover was no surprise,” he says.”It’s as good a time as any to buy. The [UAE] dirham is pegged to the dollar which has gained 25% on the pound this year. It does depend who invests and what they want to get out of it. We make a loss every year so I guess it pales in significance. But, yes, the more the better. From a selfish reason it comes down to the pyramid – the more that comes into the pot, the more that cascades down.”Now al Khadi wants to push on with his plans for a new stadium, promotion to League One, and his ongoing bugbear of raising an average attendance that stubbornly refuses to move much above 2,000 a game. But first comes Everton. “It’s not live, which is a shame as then we’d have got £160,000, close to 10% of our turnover,” al Khadi laments. “So we’ll just have to beat them and get into the fourth round, won’t we?” James Montague Macclesfield Town’s manager Keith Alexander will be encouraging his team on against Everton in the FA Cup. Photograph: Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport This article is more than 10 years old InterviewMacclesfield’s own Middle Eastern backers contemplate a Cup run This article is more than 10 years old Macclesfield Share on Messenger Share on Facebook • Bashar and Amar al Khadi took over Macclesfield Town in 2003• New stadium planned as Silkmen push for play-offs Share via Email Share on Facebookcenter_img Wed 31 Dec 2008 20.02 EST FA Cup 2008-09 Share on WhatsApp Topics FA Cup Share via Email Share on Twitter Everton Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest First published on Wed 31 Dec 2008 20.02 EST Macclesfield Share on Twitterlast_img

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