Tuesday, October 24, 2006

'Sack the board and Stuart Pearce'...

City (Manchester) fans as you can probably guess, were more than a bit upset having lost 4-0 to Wigan at the weekend. One City supporters site is calling for the manager and the board to be sacked.

The City chairman David Wardle actually went as far as making a public apology to City fans via the clubs website. The chairman hinted at new faces arriving in the January transfer window, but in the next sentence he invited any would be new investors to come in and join the club. The message is clear, City are skint. This is despite the fact that the club was given the biggest leg-up ever seen in British football club history when the local council provided a brand new ground for them in 2002. £120m of tax payers money was given over to the development of what was formerly known as the Commonwealth Stadium for the Commonwealth Games, if it was a good deal for 'the games', it was a belter for Manchester City. The City of Manchester Stadium aka 'The Council House' should have been the platform for City to make a concerted challenge for a place in the UEFA Cup, it hasn't happened.

Unlike all those clubs who have had to finance the building of new stadiums, City haven't been saddled with any crippling loan repayments nor any huge initial outlay. Sunderland, Derby and Southampton all spent heavily on building new stadiums - all three clubs have been relegated. Granted City pay the council rent, but it only kicks in when attendances go over City's old average gate. So in point of fact City play at the City of Manchester Stadium rent free for any gate under 32,500, they do pay a revenue share on anything over that figure.

Despite help from the council and tax payers, City are like many professional football clubs, they have failed to manage their funds well. The club is in danger of losing supporters if things don't improve on the pitch. As for sacking the manager, City should know from previous experience that isn't the answer. As Wardle says, investment and support is the key otherwise relegation may follow again in the not too distant future. If however City do find themselves out of the top flight and attendances drop below 32,500, then they do at least have the relative luxury of rent free accommodation - how many other City of Manchester council house tenants have that perk?

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