The leader of Myanmar's military junta considered bidding for the popular Manchester United Football Club, US diplomatic cables revealed. Military leader Than Shwe was urged by his grandson to invest $1bn to acquire the club. Quoting a 'well connected source' of the Junta, US officials stated that Than Shwe, after contemplation, rejected the proposal.
The Senior General thought that sort of expenditure could look bad, so he opted to create for Burma a league of its own, diplomats told Washington.
In the cable published by whistle-blower site Wikileaks, Larry M. Dinger, the Chargé d'Affaires of the US Embassy in Yangon (Rangoon) stated that upon orders of the Junta leader, the Myanmar Football Federation launched the Myanmar National Football League on May 16, 2009.
Dinger in his report also maintained that a group of Burmese businessmen that Than Shwe had 'chosen' were announced as the owners of the new professional soccer teams.
XXXXXXXXXXXX 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 USD one million per stadium, he added.
Myanmar's officials reportedly told Dinger that the businessmen would in return receive incentives from the regime, such as construction contracts, new gem and jade mines, and import permits, which will more than offset their costs.
US officials also believed that the league was Junta's ploy to distract the people from ongoing political and economic crisis, or to divert their attention from criticism of the 2010 elections.