THE Manchester City soap opera, which this week saw the Eastlands club thwarted in a world record £100m bid for AC Milan playmaker Kaka, has been the main talking point of the football world for days.
The whole saga has been followed closely by Chester resident Simon Cussons, who sanctioned Man City’s first ever million-pound deal back in 1981.
Simon, 65, who is a member of the Cussons soap manufacturing family, had been a City fan all his life since his father first took him to a game aged five.
But it wasn’t until 1964, when he was 21, that he decided to take his love of the club one step further, buying a 10% stake in the Maine Road outfit for just £5,000.
The contrast between the 1960s and now, with City being bankrolled by the mega-rich Abu Dhabi United Group from the Middle East, could hardly be greater.
“It is amazing when you look at what is happening at the club now,” said Simon, who lives in Chester city centre.
“I was a young man and the guy who was next to me at the games was buying a stake. The idea appealed to me so I just went for it. That wouldn’t happen now.
“I never saw it as a business. For me it was an enjoyment, I was helping run the club I supported.”
Simon increased his influence over time. In 1970 he became vice-chairman and he also adopted the role of executive president in order to help City build relations in European football.
He sold his shares in 1985.
One of the biggest things he did while at City was sanctioning the club’s first £1 million transfer, when they bought Trevor Francis from Nottingham Forest for £1.2m.
“I was on holiday when I received a call,” said Simon, who is now a director of the Cheshire and Warrington Sports Partnership. “The board were debating the merits of signing Francis for that much. When I was asked I simply said ‘yes’. I had faith in the manager.
“It was a world away from the Kaka and Robinho situations, but it all comes down to the same thing – a player is only worth what someone will pay for him.”
Man City made headlines across the world when the decided to line up Brazil international Kaka as their main January transfer window target, reportedly offering to pay the 26-year-old a staggering £500,000 a week. But the move collapsed earlier this week, when Kaka opted to stay with AC Milan.
City broke the British transfer fee record last year when they lured Kaka’s Brazil team-mate, Robinho, to Eastlands for £32.5m.