Laos: WikiLeaks stirred up another hornet’s nest on Tuesday when its leaked documents showed a cable sent by Myanmar’s military junta considering a billion dollar bid for the iconic football club Manchester United.
It was leaked that Than Shwe, commander-in-chief of the armed forces in Myanmar, was urged for the takeover by his grandson. This came shortly after the UN criticised the junta for its "unacceptably slow" response to cyclone Nargis.
The reason for the desire for the bid was a theory on how football could be used as a distraction for Myanmar’s population from the current political and economic problems.
According to Forbes magazine`s valuation of the English Premiership club at the time, $1 billion would have been enough to acquire a 56 percent controlling stake.
"One well-connected source reports that the grandson wanted Than Shwe to offer $1 billion for Manchester United," said the June 2009 cable to Washington.
"The senior general thought that sort of expenditure could look bad, so he opted to create for Burma (Myanmar) a league of its own."
According to the cable, they were told "that Than Shwe had `chosen` them to be the owners of the new professional soccer teams".
The source, the cable went on, "said the owners are responsible for paying all costs, including team salaries, housing and transportation, uniform costs, and advertising for the new league".
"In addition, owners must build new stadiums in their respective regions by 2011, at an estimated cost of $1 million dollars per stadium."
"When asked why the owners would participate in such an expensive endeavour, (an executive with one company sponsor) observed that they had little choice," the embassy reported.
"`When the senior general asks someone to do something, you do it with no complaints,` he stated."