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18 May, 2021 18:01

‘Your move, Abramovich’: Man City owner Sheikh Mansour to fund fans' trip to Porto for Champions League Final with Chelsea

‘Your move, Abramovich’: Man City owner Sheikh Mansour to fund fans' trip to Porto for Champions League Final with Chelsea

Weeks after the club was pilloried by its support base for their involvement in the ill-fated European Super League project, Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour has opted to repay fans' faith by funding their trip to Porto.

Fans of both Manchester City and Chelsea will descend on the Portuguese city on May 29 to meet in the all-English final after original host city Istanbul missed out for a second year running due to a worsening Covid-19 situation in Turkey, and it seems that one half of the 12,000 English fans expected in Porto later this month may well have a little extra spending money after Sheikh Mansour, the billionaire owner of the Manchester club, revealed that he is to fund the trip for all 6,000 City fans who attend. 

The move comes after speculation that Wembley Stadium had been in line to act as a potential host for European football's showpiece game but following talks between UEFA and the UK government, it was decided that disregarding quarantine rules for support staff, media and VIPs meant the idea was impossible.

That news came as a disappointment to City's 6,000 travelling contingent but Sheikh Mansour - who is understood to be the world's richest football club owner - says that this one is on him.

"Pep and the team have had such a remarkable season and their reaching the Champions League Final after a very challenging year represents a truly historic moment for the Club," he said in a statement.

"It is therefore incredibly important that as many fans as possible have the opportunity to attend this special game. Especially those who have supported Manchester City through good and bad times for so many years."

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The move was co-signed by Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, who outlined that the financial difficulties of fans having to plan to travel to see the biggest game in their club's history in the midst of a global pandemic was understandably problematic. 

"The challenges faced by supporters ahead of this final are multiple, both in financial and logistical terms," he said.

"Hopefully His Highness' initiative allows the majority of our attending fans to focus on enjoying the day rather than worrying about how to bear the burden of travel costs which have become all the more onerous due to the effects of the pandemic."

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However, some fans (and presumably not the ones getting a free trip to Portugal) have blasted the move as a cynical ploy to curry favor with the club's support base after their hugely unpopular move to become one of the founding members of the crumbling European Super League.

Man City (and Chelsea, for that matter) were the first English teams to pull out of the unpopular project which drew the wrath of fans and the media alike - and some fans have suggested that this move is a little more than a public relations exercise to get fans back onside. 

One fan noted online that this comes just four weeks after Mansour "tried to sell the soul of the club", something which another fan claims "people have forgotten about".

Another fan, though, put the focus on Chelsea's owner and wondered if he will follow suit.

"Your move, Abramovich," they wrote.