Whether you like to admit it or not, we are all a bit jealous of what is happening at Manchester City. Who wouldn’t be happy with some of the world’s best players arriving at their club, if you refute this I dare to call you a liar! Names like Aguero, Nasri and David Silva would not be out of place in any team in the world, what Manchester City have achieved in a short space of time is nothing short of amazing, regardless of the endless pot of money the club have and more worryingly for non-City fans, this success looks set to continue.
Whatever you think about City, however much you fundamentally disagree with them ‘buying’ success, they are no mugs. Behind the scenes of a club that have been living in the shadows of rival neighbours United a lot has been going on. As a business there are fewer forward thinking companies and Manchester City are slowly becoming a benchmark for a modern day football business.
Manchester City know that United’s fan base far eclipses their own, I mean take the all encompassing Facebook as an example, Manchester United have Approx 19.34m worldwide fans, Manchester City have Approx 1.042m – not much difference then. Manchester City know their limitations and how far they have to go to become a truly ‘big club’. Other clubs may be put off by what will be an uphill struggle to catch up with the world’s biggest and best sides, but not Manchester City. The club are working off the old Wayne’s World analogy of “if you book them, they will come”…in relation to football, if you sign the players and have success on the pitch, your fan base will grow.
This philosophy may well be against what City stand for; a ‘people’s club’ who are an institution that ‘real fans’ support, real Manchurians who don’t follow the ‘glory’ that half of London and the world seem to be drawn to by support United. Fans who back their local side through thick and thin, highs and lows, a team that has values that reflect the everyday fans who support them.
These values are about to change and as the City fans ride a new wave of optimism these ‘old school’ core values will start to disappear as the directors of the club look to make Manchester City a benchmark club for the football world.
You can already see the changes at the club; the now departed Garry Cook and Brian Marwood have started to steer the club towards become the next Manchester United et al, although City fans will hate these comparisons, it is reality. City’s owners know that tapping the Asia market is of paramount importance to business revenue, as is establishing this re-born club in other emerging markets, which was demonstrated by the tour of America in pre-season.
Due to the emphasis on City becoming a worldwide brand, they have ramped up their social media presence, as it is social media that can now give them a truly global reach. We saw the signing of Sergio Aguero more or less broadcast in a blow-by-blow account via Manchester City’s official Twitter; the club told us when he arrived at the ground, when he had a medical, when he had signed a contract-all the media outlets like Sky Sports could do is regurgitate this news with no exclusive in sight. This kind of exclusive coverage instantly increased the clubs Twitter following-don’t think this wasn’t planned.
At the upcoming ‘Leaders in Digital Sport’ event City will be represented by a Head of Digital, Digital Delivery Manager, Head of Content, Chief Branding & Commercial Officer and a Director of Digital Media. Whether these roles mean anything to you or not, this backbone of City’s online operations will give the club a representation at an event that no other club will come close to matching, no other club has so many ‘in-house’ roles that focus purely on digital media. Digital media is so important because it is where a new generation of supporters all over the world can be recruited with the accessibility the internet brings.
City truly believe in the ‘if you book them, they will come’ strategy and following this week’s announcement regarding the ‘Etihad campus’ they will attract the country’s and the world’s best young talent to the club by having an academy facility that is head and shoulders above any other club in the world. Brian Marwood commented ‘To develop your own home-grown talent is a big part of what we do. Barcelona had eight home-grown players in the Champions League final and that is an ambition of our football club’.
Marwood and Cook began work on this project three years ago and club representatives visited the best academies in the world as they plotted the development of the Etihad campus. They have taken all they can in terms of youth development from Arsenal, Barcelona and Ajax as well as non-football entities the New York Giants, New York Knicks, LA Lakers and the Australian Institute of Sport. Very few other clubs have the resources to do something on this scale with the facility boasting 15 full-size pitches and a 7,000 seater mini-stadium as well as two half-sized pitches. The campus will be able to cater for 400 players and have a 72 bed accommodation block for first & youth players; it will be a village in itself.
There is no doubt Manchester City are aiming for the stars, if they hit Asia they will be happy. The ambition and resources of this club will make it the best in the world, whether they can amass the fan base that will transform City in to a club with the reputation of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United or Liverpool then only time will tell. Success on the pitch will be paramount to them building a truly great club as we enter a new era where location will no longer matter to any football fan.
Be warned though City fans, you could easily become much like the neighbours you now mock…but with success and trophies will you even care?