There are fine margins between winning and losing at the peak of elite-level sports. Athletes, coaching staff, and senior management do everything in their power to give their teams an edge in the hope it pushes them to the next level or even just squeezes out an extra one percent that could be the difference between winning a title and being also-rans.

The modern sporting world employs sports scientists that monitor athletes’ every move, and teams of nutritionists that ensure that sports stars fuel their bodies with precise amounts of carbohydrates, nutrients, and vitamins. Sports psychologists play a significant role, too, assisting players in maintaining a positive mindset, especially if they are enduring a poor run of form. While these scientific methods are publicized in the media, many sports teams have utilized the art of feng shui to give their athletes an edge and to increase the positive energy around the stadium.

Bringing Feng Shui to the Premier League

Asian sports teams have used feng shui for many years, but it made it to the shores of the United Kingdom in the late 2000s. English Premier League football team Manchester City hit the headlines in 2008 when the club’s then-owner brought in feng shui experts to improve the energy around the team’s famous stadium. Manchester City had been struggling to get a foothold in English football’s top division, having returned to the top flight six years earlier. The team was hardly ever a favorite to win with the best online sports book for Americans, and Thaksin Shinawatra decided to change that fact.

Shinawatra was the Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006. The controversial billionaire purchased Manchester City for £81.6 million in June 2007. Supporters took kindly to Shinawatra thanks to him appointing former England men’s national team manager Sven-Goran Eriksson as the team’s manager, spending vast sums of money on new players, and the fact City did the double over their arch-rivals Manchester United. However, despite a solid start to the campaign, City won only four of their last 16 fixtures, leaving the team ninth in the table and ultimately resulting in Erikkson losing his job.

Crystals, Elephants, and Three-Legged Toads

It is not uncommon for professional football teams to re-lay their pitches during the offseason. Premier League soccer pitches see at least 19 games played on them, many through the winter months, resulting in them becoming damaged. Coaches and players want a perfect surface at their home stadium, so patching it up or putting down new turf is a significant job for the club’s groundsman. Shinawatra had an idea to improve the positivity around City’s stadium: feng shui.

The City owner ordered his ground staff to work alongside feng shui experts while maintaining the pitch and the surrounding stadium. Over 100 crystals were installed on the many concrete barriers inside and around the Eastlands ground. In addition, a crystal ball was buried under the center circle, with other crystals and pot elephants buried under the corner flags during a ceremony attended by Shinawatra and the senior management team. Three-legged toads, lucky trees, and other symbols were placed around the stadium, in the club’s offices, and in the official merchandise store. Unfortunately, Shinawatra was arrested in 2008 and forced to sell the club to the Abu Dhabi United Group for £200 million. Although negative for Shinawatra, he cites feng shui as the platform for City’s recent success.

A Period of Ongoing Success

The improved positivity in and around the stadium saw City start the season fast out of the blocks, winning five of their opening six games under manager Mark Hughes. However, a run of seven consecutive draws saw Roberto Mancini replace Hughes at the helm. Mancini worked wonders, guiding City to a fifth-place finish in the league and a semi-final place in the League Cup. Incidentally, that lofty fifth-place finish is the lowest City has finished in the Premier League table since the club used the power of feng shui.

Under new ownership, and with feng shui crystals doing their part, City finished third during the following season before winning their first top-flight title since 1968. The club has since won six Premier League titles in ten years, two FA Cups, and six league cups. Make of that what you will.

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