Newsletter #836

Lots of activity as the big day approaches. Tonight’s news round up contains plenty of squad news (including news of ‘Ken Carr’), as we take on a distinctly Gallic approach.

We also have four match reports from pre-season games, plenty more opinion on stadium, line-ups past and present and a few requests with news of overseas viewing.

Next game: Leeds United, away, 17 August 2002


General News

City in Action: City’s first team began the week with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Hamburger SV on Saturday at the AOL Arena. Skipper Ali B was ruled out through injury, and the attack was lead by Anelka and Huckerby. The team was: City: Nash, Distin, Horlock, Huckerby, Berkovic (Shuker 45), Jihai, Dunne (Charvet 45), Howey, Wright-Phillips, Anelka. On the same day, City’s Reserves were in action against Chester at the Deva Stadium. Having fallen behind on 28 minutes, the Blues eventually won 2-1 thanks to goals by Glen Whelan and an own goal by former Liverpool defender Steve Harkness. The first team then morphed into a rampant goalscoring machine. Monday night saw the Blues at Spotland, where they inflicted a 6-0 drubbing on Rochdale. Chris Shuker opened and finished the scoring, with the goals in between being provided by Lucien Mettomo, Darren Huckerby, Laurent Charvet and Matias Vuoso. Things went even better on the following night. City played Tranmere in Eric Nixon’s testimonial, and won 7-1, with goals by Nicholas Anelka (2), trialist and friend of Ali B, Karim Kerkar (2), Chris Shuker (again), SWP and Kevin Horlock.

Tribute to Fans: Preston North End paid tribute to the City fans who attended Ryan Kidd’s testimonial on Tuesday July 30. Derek Shaw, Chairman of Preston North End said: “On behalf of Preston North End Football Club I would like to thank the Manchester City supporters who attended Ryan Kidd’s testimonial at Deepdale on Tuesday night. There were over 3,000 who made the trip up the motorway and they were impeccably behaved and a great credit to Manchester City Football Club. They showed respect throughout to a great servant and loyal player of PNE. In these difficult times in football the word ‘thank you’ is rarely used, but I would personally like to thank the Man City fans for their tremendous support on the night and wish Kevin Keegan and the rest of the team all the best for the new season.”

Manchester Answers Back: As you may have seen, England’s athletes have been complaining that MCFC should not inherit the City of Manchester stadium. Triple jumper Jonathon Edwards, and distance runner Paula Radcliffe both expressed the opinion that athletics deserved to retain the use of the new stadium. “Manchester City should buy a stadium elsewhere and make a present of this stadium to the athletes,” said Radcliffe. This week, Manchester City Council has been giving its side of the story. It transpires that the Council had approached the Government for funding to incorporate retractable seating and a running track, following the model of Paris’ World Cup Stadium. This plan was rejected by the then Culture Secretary Chris Smith. “The stadium you see today could have been our Stade de France,” said the council’s chief executive Howard Bernstein (no relation to our Chairman, hopefully – now that would be a national story!). “We would have required help with the funding but neither the Government nor Sport England wanted to know.” This meant that the only financially viable solution was to build a football stadium which could be used for one athletics event. “We were left with no alternative in the circumstances,” said Bernstein. “It was the only viable economic solution. We didn’t want to create a white elephant. The agreement with Manchester City provides a great future.” The conversion of the stadium began after the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. The track will be ripped up, the temporary stands removed and the digging out of the final six metres of earth has begun.

Time to Make History: came up with a snippet of trivia this week. It seems that City have never won the opening game of any of their seasons in the Premiership. In 1992 and 1993, City started with 1-1 draws against QPR and Leeds respectively. Arsenal thumped City 3-0 in 1994, while a 1-1 draw with Spurs heralded the start of the relegation season of 1995. The last time we were in the Premiership, JR’s boys were stuffed 4-0 at Charlton Athletic. A nice little win at Leeds on 17 August would be a damn fine way to break that jinx, methinks!

Transfer News and Gossip

Killen Me Softly: Chris Killen has left Maine Road with KK’s endorsement ringing in his ears. “I think Chris is much better than a Second Division striker which is where he has gone to with Oldham, but now he has to prove that,” said Keegan. “As far as we are concerned when the bid came in I looked at it and thought how many players would we have to have a problem with before Chris would play. He would have had to wait quite a long time to get his chance with us at Manchester City. It is a good move for the lad, the right move. We feel we have been fair on him. I think it is part of our responsibility to lads that come through our Academy, but are not going to make it here, to help them make the right move to the right sort of place. They are good lads, who work very hard and are true professionals. We wish Chris all the best.” City have inserted a sell-on clause so that if Oldham sell Killen to another club, a portion of the fee will come to City.

Offer to Aussie: Sixteen year-old Josh Kamasz has been offered a 10-day trial by City. Kamasz was the star of Freemantle’s youth team, which recently won a tournament on Scotland. The Blues were one of four English clubs to express an interest in the Australian youth international but City have made the first official approach for the player.

Wanted: Brazilian Goalkeepers: Following the injuries to Schmeichel and Weaver, City have been linked with a brace of Brazilian goalkeepers this week. First candidate was Marcos, Brazil’s no.1 in the World Cup Finals. Marcos is available for £4 million from his club Palmeiras, and his agent has been touting his client around the Premiership (thanks to James Walsh for this item). The next candidate was AC Milan’s 29-year-old shot stopper Dida, who has spent a year on loan back in Brazil with Corinthians. Dida is best remembered in England for dropping a tame Lee Bowyer shot into the goal during AC Milan’s Champions’ League tie with Leeds United a couple of years back. One source also suggested this week that City might re-sign Simon Royce from Leicester as short term cover for the injured goalkeepers.

Ali’s Friends I: Just in case Ali B is still lonely at City, it seems that Kevin Keegan is interested in yet another Paris St. Germain player. City are now supposed to be tying up a deal for French centre half Frederic Dehu. Centre half Dehu, capped five times for his country, is in dispute with PSG coach Luis Fernandez, and would be available for a mere £2 million. If the reports are true, this would be KK’s eighth signing of the summer.

Ali’s Friends II: Another ‘KK’ could soon be at Maine Road. On Monday, 25-year-old Algerian Karim Kerkar came on against Rochdale in the second half, and nearly added a seventh goal. The Boss KK explained the origins of this mystery player. “He’s a friend of Ali Benarbia’s, he’s available on a free and Ali said we should just have a look at him,” said Keegan. Kerkar has just left Le Havre. “It was the first time I’ve seen him in my life and now I really will have a good look at him. He can play, he’s got a good football brain, sees the whole picture and not a lot of players do that. He’s quite exciting so we’ll have another good look at him.” The Boss Man was as good as his word. Twenty four hours later, Kerkar scored twice for the Blues at Tranmere. Mr. Keegan seems keen to sign him, saying: “I’ve just been talking to Ali and told him I’d like Karim to stay a bit longer although I’ve already seen enough. I know one thing – he can play football. I’d like him to stay longer so he can get to know what we’re about and we could have more of a look at him. I thought he did very well against Tranmere, although everyone did very well. It’s a good team to play in at the moment. That was his second game in two nights for us so he is obviously very fit and he has impressed the lads. We will see how it goes. Ali says he may go on trial somewhere else and I can’t stop him doing that but I can’t imagine a better club than us.”

McCarthy Link: Sunday’s tabloids featured a story that KK was about to reinforce his depleted ranks of strikers by taking South African international Benni McCarthy on loan. McCarthy, currently at Spanish club Celta Vigo, almost joined Middlesbrough last month, but the deal broke down over the player’s terms.

Ex-Blues’ News

Contracts for Duo: Ian Brightwell has signed for Port Vale on a short term contract after impressing ex-Blues’ boss Brian Horton. “Brian was happy enough to take a look at me and it came as a nice surprise this week to be offered terms,” said Brighty. “The fact that I am versatile probably helped my cause as it has throughout my career.” Martyn Margetson meanwhile has signed a contract at Cardiff City. The Wales B International left Huddersfield Town last month after failing to agree on a new contract. Boss Lennie Lawrence said: “I want Martyn to stay. He is a good, experienced goalkeeper who really wants to join Cardiff City. He fitted in well during the trip to Scotland.” Margetson is talking a good fight as well. He said: “I haven’t come here to be number two. I played every match for Huddersfield last season so I’m not used to being a substitute.” (thanks to David Blyth).

It’s an Ill Wind: The dismissal by Leicester City of alleged colleague-slugger Dennis Wise has opened the door to Nicky Summerbee. Foxes’ boss Micky Adams made it clear last week that he couldn’t offer any more contracts until he trimmed the existing wage bill. Now Adams may well sign up Summerbee, who is available on a free transfer.

Reactions and Comments

A Rolls Royce in Hamburg: Despite defeat in Hamburg, KK remained upbeat about the performance of the Blues. He was particularly pleased with the performance of Nicolas Anelka. “Nicolas is a Rolls-Royce of a striker,” said Keegan, “I see a lot of pace in his partnership with Darren Huckerby. It really is exciting to have a player like this at Manchester City. If you’re looking for a top scorer in the Premiership next season, he will certainly be in the top six or seven names you can think of. He is already established as a top class striker, he has pace, control and a great eye for goal – that’s before you even get to his experience. He has played for some of the biggest clubs around. I believe he can still improve. If he was ten years older you might think he was set in his ways, but there is a lot more to come from him yet. At his age there is still room for improvement and we knew when we got him that we were getting a top-class striker.” Keegan believes that Anelka can improve, “For instance he missed chances on the left side and that’s something we can work on. To be fair we haven’t worked on finishing in training yet.” KK reckoned that Sylvain Distin put in a good show. “Distin was excellent, a wonderful player. He’s got big, long legs, tackles and covers the ground well.” Although City conceded the only goal to a poorly defended corner, KK professed himself to be unconcerned, saying that “We made mistakes in this game, but I would rather it happens now than against Leeds on the opening day of the season.”

Shuker Stakes a Claim: Midfielder Chris Shuker has done his chances no harm at all in the last fortnight, with goalscoring appearances in a number of the pre-season games. Kevin Keegan was fulsome in his praise of the Liverpudlian after his two goals at Rochdale last Monday. Using an interesting anatomical comparison, the Boss said “He’s got a heart as big as himself. He reminds me a little bit of Shaun Wright-Phillips in that he’s not very big, but if the heart’s right and the attitude’s good then that doesn’t matter. He desperately wants to be a footballer and I think he’ll make it here, I really think he will.” Keegan was pleased with the show at Spotland. “We played some great football and there were a lot of plusses to take out of the game and no minus points, which is very pleasing,” he commented. “I thought Darren Huckerby was excellent, as was Chris Shuker who took his goals well, but there wasn’t a weak link and I felt a little bit sorry for Rochdale because I don’t care who we would have played last night. We would have caused problems for anyone playing like that and I don’t think there were many who could have lived with us. The pace was good and so too was the invention. I’m very, very pleased.” Tuesday night’s demolition of Tranmere elicited this tribute from Rovers’ caretaker boss Ray Mathias: “Credit where it’s due, we were up against a top quality side tonight. They scored exceptional goals. If you don’t close players down they will punish you and that’s what happened.”

Squad News

‘Keeper Conundrum: The “Squad News” section may well be re-named “Injury News” at this rate. Let us begin, gentle reader, with the goalkeeping situation. As previously reported, both Peter Schmeichel and Nicky Weaver are injured at the moment. KK described the incident which injured the Danish ‘keeper during last week’s friendly at Preston. “It was an innocuous incident that caused the damage but that is normally how it happens. You can go into a crunching tackle or someone goes right through you and you get up with a bit of bruising. He doesn’t have to go in plaster and he will not need an operation. We still have two very good goalkeepers. Nick Weaver is on line to be training within the next two weeks.” KK may yet bring in experienced goalkeeping cover before the transfer deadline on August 31. “I wouldn’t say there will be no move for another goalkeeper because I want to make sure Nick gets properly better,” he said. “If I knew he would be back within a week of the Premiership kicking off I would have no problem putting Brian Murphy in the squad, but I couldn’t ask a kid with no league experience to do that job for any length of time. We will look at options as and when we need to and if we do move for another ‘keeper it will be because it is the right insurance policy for the club.”

Foe No-Go: Further up the pitch, midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe received some excellent news. He will not now have to serve a four match ban, after Chairman Bernstein appealed to the FA on Foe’s behalf. “I am delighted that everything has worked out so well,” declared Bernstein. “It is a victory for common sense and I am thrilled that we are not getting unjustly penalised. FIFA rules stipulate that any bans carried over from one season into another should be served within twelve months, so it was quite unfair that we could have been punished for something that happened three years ago. We approached the FA and am glad to say their co-operation was magnificent and we are thrilled that Marc is now free to play.” Well, not quite Mr. B… next day came news of (you’ve guessed it) an injury for the Cameroon international. Foe is said to be suffering from an eye infection, and was supposed to miss this week’s friendly fixtures, though he did play at Tranmere. It is unclear if he will make the squad for the Leeds game.

Latest Injuries to Strikers: City are down to just two fit forwards, now that Jon Macken and Matias Vuoso have picked up injuries. Macken became the latest striker to join the casualty list after complaining of pains in his knee. Kevin Keegan’s £5 million signing from Preston has had the problem for weeks and may need an operation. Kevin Keegan explained the trouble that afflicted the Argentine Vuoso. “On the day of the Tranmere game Vuoso pulled out, although it is nothing serious. Vuoso felt a bit of stiffness in his hamstring on Monday at Rochdale but didn’t tell us. He tried to train on Tuesday but had to pull out. As I say, hopefully it is nothing serious.”

Goat’s Broken Hoof: KK believes that leading scorer Shaun Goater is still three or four weeks away from fitness, adding that “Shaun is experiencing a bit of pain when he jumps and lands and strikes through the ball.” The thirty two year old sounds pretty sick about yet again missing the start of a Premiership season. “I can’t tell you how frustrating it is having missed pre-season the last time we were in the Premiership,” commented Goater. “It was a freak accident. Someone stood on my toe during a game behind closed doors with Huddersfield. It’s the sort of incident that happens 30 times in a game with no consequences. I am putting myself in the hands of the physio, Rob Harris, and he will advise me when I can safely return. Of course, I am willing to play through the pain barrier, but I don’t want to aggravate the problem and make my stay out any longer. I want to get back as soon as possible. Kevin Keegan and Stuart Pearce have both told me they had similar injuries and played through them. I hope I am back in two or three weeks. I will be able to keep a certain level fitness level up but there is no substitute for running around and playing games.” Shaun has fractured a metatarsal, just like the England captain, so City fans can now legitimately talk of “Doing a Goater”, rather than “Doing a Beckham”.

Wanchope has Op: Paulo Wanchope’s injury appears to have been the worst of the four injured strikers, with the Costa Rican unlikely to play until the New Year. Wanchope has had the operation on his knee this week in the United States, and his agent reckons it has gone well for Paulo. “The surgery lasted about an hour-and-a-half, and after that he spoke to me by phone,” said Wanchope’s agent Elias Soley. “He’s in perfect condition. We asked Manchester City for special permission to stay in Costa Rica during the first few weeks of recuperation. They will answer on Monday or Tuesday.”

Le Capitain Speaks: City’s new captain Ali Benarbia has been talking this week about his elevation to team leader. “I know what it means to be made captain of such a great club as Manchester City and I consider it a great honour, one of the best of my career,” stated Ali. “I also know what it means to wear the number eight shirt and I hope I do both justice. I also hope City fans are happy with me taking over from Stuart. They have been wonderful to me since I came from France and I adore them. Being captain is not new to me because I was in the same position at Paris St Germain. I have always been a natural leader on the pitch and we have many of those in the side this season. I am not someone who will shout at people or interfere with what they do away from the club. I expect them all to be as professional as possible. If they want advice on any subject I will be there to help as much as I can, but I am not a minder for them. Where I will help most is on the training ground because I need all the other players. We have some natural leaders in the side like Steve Howey, Peter Schmeichel, Eyal Berkovic and me. I prefer to have 11 leaders. That is the ideal, but I am sure my experience and that of the senior professionals will be of great benefit.” This season’s aims are clear to the Algerian maestro. “To stay in the division is always the first objective so that we can be playing in the Premiership when we move to the new stadium,” he acknowledged. “Second is to show we have a progressive, improving, good team. Any place between fifth and 15th will be a decent finish for us in our first season back. What we cannot afford are any long bad runs because, once you are behind, it is a hard league in which to catch up. We must aim to make a good start and then find consistent form. The fans will play a big part in that too, and I know they will be right behind us from the start.”

Charvet’s Retour: It’s not April 1, I promise you. Kevin Keegan thinks that Laurent Charvet may well feature in his first team plans. “Laurent Charvet has been tremendous in training; he has got himself right back into the squad and into my thoughts,” announced the Boss Man. “His attitude has been really, really good and he has been highly motivated, which is something I don’t think he was last year. Well, not enough for me anyway and obviously that is why I didn’t play him much. I had a big meeting with him and told him that if wanted to play at Manchester City then he had to step it up and that is what he has done. Playing football is his job so I expected that reaction but full marks to him for taking on board what I had said. He has done something about it. Laurent Charvet is a tremendous athlete, he has an abundance of pace and had a lot of attributes that we could use.” Apart from a couple of games at the start of last season, Charvet has been a peripheral figure in the Blues’ squad, and almost joined Olympic Marseille in mid-season.

Don Barrie (


Monday 5 August with 8,000+ crammed into Spotland, such was the demand that the kick off was half an hour late to let everyone in; a sensible piece of policing.

Charvet Dunne Ritchie Mettomo Tiatto
   SWP        Wiekens       Shuker
       Huckerby        Vuoso

started, but there were the usual substitutions, those that I could make out being: Murphy, Loran, Sun Jihai, Dunfield, Whelan and an Algerian trialist suggested by Ali Bernarbia who the announcer introduced as “Ken Carr” (no doubt some huge mistake but the irony of a “Kenny Kenny give us a wave” chant being rather lost!).

The atmosphere was good, the football average and Vuoso missing 5 easy chances before he finally scored, forcing the gentleman behind to call him “our Forlan” for most of the game.

Huckerby, Shuker and Mettomo also scored in a 6-0 stroll.

B Leigh (


Less of a match report, more a series of observations from the match last night. The attendance was announced as 8,859 with many Blues sitting on the steps on this glorious summer evening. City lined up as follows:

        Ritchie   Mettomo   Dunne
Tiatto                             Charvet
        Shuker             Wright-Phillips
           Huckerby     Vuoso

We decided that, with a couple of exceptions, this must be the ‘B’ team – the 2nd choice for each position. Having said that, by the end of the evening, we’d also decided that the ‘B’ team could probably get promotion from the 1st Division!

Nash looked commanding, directing the defence well (though he must surely have been hoarse by the end of the half!).

Shuker was fantastic… everywhere you looked he was there (obviously challenging SWP for the Roy of the Rovers award, and the tannoy announcer even tried to put him in goal!). He was fast and he ran forward in attack and tracked back in defence, just like SWP. He may be small in stature but his presence on the pitch last night was huge (I’d just like to know where he gets his energy from, he simply did not stop).

Charvet’s aim was much improved from the Bury game, he even found the net (to contribute one of City’s 6 goals).

Trying to work out who was playing once the substitutions started was somewhat challenging; without numbers on their shirts, some of the younger players had the tannoy announcer completely lost. Karim Kerkar, the Algerian on trial at Ali’s request, became Ken Carr and was henceforth heralded as ‘Kenny’ every time he got the ball! You could see the Ali influence with some deft footwork and good positional playing.

Terry Dunfield looked ‘threatening’ again, though he probably needs to tone down some of the tackling if he’s going to remain on the pitch.

Brian Murphy had a better second half than at Bury (where Andy had christened him ‘Moses’, because at times everything just opened up in front of him). He seemed more confident in coming to collect the ball and kept a clean sheet.

Another inspiring performance; the depth of choice now available to KK is certainly exciting and I look forward to the forthcoming season (if only Citycard and the ticket office can sort things out to find and re-install our missing card on the system!).

I only wish the police would also do more about directing traffic away from the ground after the match – it took us almost as long to get back to the M62 from Rochdale as it did to get home to South Yorkshire!

CTID, Sarah Longshaw (


The highlight of this game was Tyrone Loran, who looks like a real quality defender. He is big, strong lad – very comfortable on the ball and (dare I say it)… looks and plays like Rio Ferdinand! Hopefully he may get the odd games this season if the likes of Distin or Dunne were to get injured/suspended.

City passed the ball around pretty well most of the time, with the exception of Jeff Whitley I’m afraid. Mikkel Bischoff made a couple of mistakes, one of which gave them their penalty, the other at the start of the 2nd half when he lost the ball but big Kevin S-E in goal saved well. City’s first goal was a neat chip over the ‘keeper from just inside the area by Glenn Whelan. The winner in the 2nd half was an own goal by ex-Liverpool player Harkness after good work by Gary Browne down the left wing.

We thought ten quid for a Reserve game was a bit cheeky but at least they had half decent chicken balti pies!

Jon Reese (


An outrageous backheel from Ali B in the first few minutes seemed to announce that City had come to play against a dispirited Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park. On a fine summer’s evening, a pint in The Clipper preceded a City display of verve and skill. City lined up with Carlo in goal in front of a back three of Sun, Howey and Distin. Wing backs were Jensen and Wright-Philips with Ali B, Foe and Horlock in midfield. Anelka and Shuker completed the line up.

Throughout the first half City seemed to concentrate on playing the ball down the left channel. Distin, showing both pace and power, linked well with Jensen, Benarbia and Shuker and it came as no surprise that the first goal came from the left. Jensen released Shuker, whose shot was well saved by Nixon; the ball fell to Anelka on the edge of the box, who twisted one way then the other before nonchalantly curling the ball in off the post with his left foot. Class.

City were soon two up with Anelka returning the favour to Shuker by disrupting the Tranmere defence, the diminutive striker mopping up a loose ball in the area to lash home an unstoppable shot. By this point Nixon had had enough and was replaced in the Tranmere goal. It failed to stop City’s pressure and when a cross was passed back to the ‘keeper he picked it up rather than concede a corner. An indirect free kick was awarded on the edge of the 6 yard line. The scene was reminiscent of a hockey short corner as Benarbia laid the ball square for Anelka to hammer it high into the roof of the net despite most of the Tranmere team being on the goal line. Tranmere then had a rare moment of skill with Jason Koumas curling a 20 yard free kick against the bar with Nash beaten.

Half time saw Paula Radcliffe win the 10,000 metres to generous applause from City fans in the bar area.

City were shooting toward the City faithful in the Cowsheds in the second half. They seemed to step up their play further after the break. A long ball out to the left looked a 40-60 ball until Anelka’s pace made it his by a whisker, more twists and turns and he laid a perfect square ball to Wright-Philips lurking on the 6 yard line. He clinically dispatched it past two defenders on the line.

Anelka was the taken off after a kick on the ankle and Tranmere got their consolation goal. Slack defending gave Danny Harrison a chance to beat Nash with a low shot into the bottom corner. A batch of substitutions followed, including the intorduction of ‘the man with no name’, later revealed as Karim Kerkar. A neat midfielder with a good first touch and enthusiastic tackling, Kerkar showed his shooting skills with the goal of the night. Picking up a short pass on the edge of the penalty area, he hit an outside of the foot curler into the net off the far post. Not to be outdone, Horlock received a corner just outside the area and cracked a low shot just inside the hapless Nixon’s post for the sixth. The seventh duly followed with Kerkar beating three Tranmere defenders before seeing his deflected shot hit the back of the net. Dunfield and Wright-Phillips both went close with headers and it really could have been 10.

A run out against an out of sorts Tranmere side may seem like a recipe for an easy win but the spirit in the team looked excellent. The new signings seem to have gelled, Sun looked good and Horlock clearly feels he should still be in the first team and is performing accordingly. Anelka looked imperious with the pace I knew he had but also a great first touch and skills to get past defenders. The players look like they are enjoying their football and all want the ball. I came away much happier than I had arrived. A good night out.

Mark Bailey (


I would like to make a few comments concerning Ken Corfield’s “all-time best eleven”, which appeared last week in MCIVTA.

An “all-time best” team presupposes that it is chosen from players the selector has actually seen. I was therefore surprised that, having included both Roy Paul and Bobby Johnstone in his line-up, Ken chose Joe Corrigan in preference to Bert Trautmann as his goalkeeper.

Though Joe Corrigan became a first-class ‘keeper, in my opinion, he was never in the same class as the great Bert.

Trautmann was the finest goalkeeper I have seen, City or otherwise. I saw Frank Swift in his prime, during the war, and although Big Frank was my first footballing hero, I later came to the conclusion that Bert Trautmann was even better. That is saying something. Bert’s agility, handling and holding of crosses, ability to catch the ball in a full-length dive (not palming away), his domination of the penalty area (note: penalty area, not six-yard box) by his physical presence and force of personality made the great man a joy to watch and at times breathtaking. Not to mention his distribution, especially throwing. Bear in mind, during his long career at Maine Road, Bert played behind some pretty dire defences.

Otherwise Ken, I have no quibbles with your selection.

Incidentally, regarding Roy Paul and Bobby Johnstone, Roy Paul was not only a wonderful wing-half but was the best captain I have seen in a City shirt. That includes the much revered Tony Book. Bobby Johnstone was a genius. He was a cross between Ali B and Eyal Berkovic. Neither would be out of place in today’s football, but whether they would have accepted the strictures of diet and training in the modern game is quite another matter.

Jim Barrie (c/o


Found an article on financing from the Electronic Telegraph written by Simon Banks, which others may find interesting (not least because it mentions a former Blue who is now doing rather well).

Third-Party Transfers Under Scrutiny

By Simon Banks (Filed: 04/08/2002)

The crisis at Bradford City, who secured their immediate future on Thursday when a settlement was reached with the club’s creditors, has raised an issue which could have serious implications for the game’s finances. Off-balance-sheet third-party transfer funding – known in the City as “sale and leaseback” – is a relatively new phenomenon which allows clubs to ‘buy’ players by leasing them from the third party – for example, a bank – over the length of the player’s contract. The pioneers of this funding were the merchant bank Singer & Friedlander, with a product called Transflo but the bank are withdrawing from the football market. Registered European Football Finance (REFF), a company run by Ray Ranson, the former Manchester City defender, have become the new market leaders.

The benefit for the selling club is they receive the money up front rather than in instalments, while it enables the buying club to spread their payments. Last year Deloitte & Touche revealed around £120 million was deployed in this manner. The case of Bradford, however, has raised questions about the suitability of this type of financing and the Football League’s insolvency policy.

Their rule states that all debts must be honoured before a club can play. It means clubs that go into administration must pay all outstanding transfer debts and meet players’ wages for the remainder of their contracts before being included in the fixture list. The use of off-balance-sheet third-party financing effectively changes the status of a club’s debt from football debt to unsecured trade debt.

The Football League’s board meet on Tuesday to review Bradford’s creditors’ voluntary agreement (CVA) before deciding whether they can be included in next season’s fixtures. A League spokesman said: “The board will be looking to see if the CVA raises any competitive issues.”

It is believed the board may be concerned that Bradford have gained a competitive advantage over clubs that have not financed player purchases through third-party institutions. In some ways, the financing is like any other loan and the League would find it difficult to inhibit its use while at the same time allowing clubs access to more conventional financing. Football Association and FIFA rules prevent players’ registrations being held as security by lenders and therefore clubs using sale and leaseback facilities have an informal arrangement whereby they agree to pay off debt when they sell the player that they have leased. The informal nature of this arrangement, however, has been exposed by Bradford City.

On entering administration in May, Bradford were reported to have debts of £22 million, yet when the CVA was posted to creditors it showed a total debt of £35.5 million. Around £8 million of the additional debt was owed to players in back-pay, while £7.34 million was owed to Gerling, the German re-insurance company. REFF had placed their sale and leaseback with the insurer as a risk, the risk being whether the club would be able to honour their commitments. When Bradford defaulted, Gerling were left with the prospect of accepting just over £700,000 or forcing the club into liquidation. The insurer only accepted the CVA on the understanding that another £1 million would be paid in three years. There is also a mystery as to how Bradford accumulated such a high level of player-trading associated debt when, in the last four years, they had only spent £1.77 million more than they raised through player sales.

With the failure of the Football League’s case against ITV Digital on Thursday and claims that as many as 20 more clubs could be sent into administration, the issue of off-balance third-party financing for player transfers looks set to feature more prominently in the future. Gerling are believed to have liabilities with at least 11 other clubs and REFF have placed risk with other insurers.

As the liabilities mount, the pressure on insurers to squeeze more than 10p in the pound out of defaulting clubs will increase. The slowdown in the transfer market is already inhibiting clubs’ ability to raise funds through player sales and a more cautious risk policy by insurance companies to new lending will further depress the market as clubs battle to raise ready cash to finance deals.

It may be that the market saves the Football League from having to formulate new rules that will avoid rendering their insolvency policy redundant. If not, many clubs could find themselves having to renegotiate existing liabilities.

David Blyth (


Following Paula Radcliffe’s comments about the City of Manchester Stadium ,I watched her clock the second best 10,000 metres time in history yesterday at the fourth biggest athletics meeting in the world (Olympics, World Champs and Commonwealth are bigger) in Munich.

I was interested to see how many people were at such a major athletics event and I counted about a dozen.

If she really needs a venue in the North West I suggest running round Heaton Park and bringing a few milk crates to accommodate the huge crowd.

If it was the crowd that willed her to victory in Manchester why was her performance so much better in Munich?

St. John Cox (


I live about as far away as possible from Maine Road, but we recently took in a boarder from Shandong Province, China, thousands of miles from Beijing.

She has no interest in sport, but I mentioned that City had a Chinese player on the books, Sun Jihai. She said “Sun Jihai, he’s famous.”

Perhaps Chris Bird could do worse than use Sun Jihai as the focal point of the attack on the China market.

I don’t think we should overlook the market in Thailand for City, either. Leave Singapore to some other crowd.

Stuart Grundy (


To those people worried about moving, don’t! The stadium is like a mini Wembley, but clean and gleaming; the atmosphere for the Rugby was superb and if the running of it when we take over is on a par with the Games then it will be magnificent.

Of interest to those who travel by car are the arrangements for parking etc. next season. The park and ride for the Games which operated from Heaton Park and other venues, was excellent, being well organised at Heaton Park and the Stadium. Having seen Chris Bird at Rochdale last night, I approached him and asked him if such a scheme will run for us and he did confirm that discussions are taking place.

For those who travel from the north of Manchester to the stadium I believe that this has to be much easier, safer and more sensible than parking near the stadium; so if you agree please email or contact Chris Bird, the bus companies, your local paper, your local councillor, Ian Cheeseman at BBC GMR (he commented last night that he might do a piece on it for his programme) and anyone else that you feel can help. After all if we are to have a new stadium, then why not civilised travel as well?

B Leigh (


I’ve been reading with interest other Blues’ views (is there a TV program in that?) regarding the City of Manchester Stadium.

I must admit that my prime reason for attending the 1st night of athletics at the Commonwealth Games was to get a decent view of our new home, and to see how it operated etc. However, the tickets I had for this night were in the Gene Kelly stand(s), so couldn’t really tell much.

Last night though I went to the closing ceremony – and got tickets in the thankfully covered stand – basically on the halfway line in the “Kippax” East Stand – in the top section. The view was superb – the stands are banked steeply so you still get the impression of being close to the pitch; there may be some bottlenecks at the end of games though as it wasn’t too easy (despite the hand rails) to get out of your rows and down to the exits.

A slight niggle I have though is with the space “under” the stand – in the bar areas etc. Last night there were large queues for beer/food etc. (as some one else pointed out – Boddies and Stella from cans – no draught), and these lines were basically blocking easy movement around the concourse. It reminded me of the back of the Platt Lane end, but as a North Stand season ticket holder who has only been in the “new” Platt Lane a couple of times it’s difficult to say for sure.

Does anyone know if the stadium surrounds will be used as car parking space? Will the Games shuttle bus station still be used when we move in? And again – will there be video screens when we get in there?

While I’m in a writing mood… I feel like getting a few things off my chest (oo-er missus).

  1. We had a great chance early on in the Olympic/Commonwealth biddingprocess of getting a top class stadium – with an athletics track andretractable seating etc., and if I recall a capacity of around75,000. However, we (as in Manchester) were betrayed (in myopinion) by a so-called “local” sport who decided to throw theirsupport behind London and Wembley – namely the Rugby League. I’m surethey weren’t the only factor, but I still think they’re splitters!
  2. Has anyone else wondered why the FA/Wembley have not beeninvestigated by the Monopolies Commission? As I understand it, the FA(or a subsidiary company of the FA) owns Wembley PLC, the FA hassigned an exclusivity contract with Wembley for Wembley to hold allCup Finals and England home games, and the FA is supporting andpressing for any “National Stadium” to be built at (can you see whereit is yet?) yes – Wembley!

Anyway, enough of my ranting, oh – apart to say – anyone fearing City being supported by the money from thousands of “unsuspecting” people in the Far East wearing City shirts needn’t worry. The likelihood is that any shirt you see being worn out there is a fake any way – we won’t get a cent!

On that cheering note – toodle pip – thanks for listening!

Hugh (


I’ve just read a contribution in the latest McVittee from Dave Kilroy, about City paying rent at the new stadium, concerning how much rent we will pay.

In fact Maine Road’s permanent capacity is only around 32,000, so at the new stadium we will pay 50% of gate receipts over 32,000 (i.e. we will only receive half the money from the sale of seat 32,001 and upwards) to the council. Also we will pay 60% of sales over 40,000 to the council.

At this rate I believe it will take around 50 years to pay for itself.

Andrew Stavely (


Peter Llewellyn’s calculations are slightly flawed as his formula gives an occupancy of 98.65%, not 95%. Still even that’s not unreasonable and so what if we give the council anything between £600,000 and £3,000,000.

Using the assumptions given by Peter and Dave Kilroy, this would still give City somewhere between £17 and £19 million on gate receipts from Premiership matches alone. Still a pretty tidy sum.

Sean Cassidy (


I don’t know whether anyone else has noticed yet, but as a non-season ticket holder, I am obliged to book match by match. Recently I phoned for tickets for the Newcastle game and was charged £21 per seat plus booking fee – and that is for the uncovered HH stand! Last season I paid £16 for the same seat. The reason given was that they have all gone up “because we are in the Premiership”. My comment here would be that they did not go up 2 years ago when we were last promoted to the Premiership and if my maths serves me correctly, this is a 31% hike in prices. How can the club justify this sort of increase? Is it to pay for Anelka? Heaven forbid what the ticket prices are going to be like in the new stadium.

John Ramsbottom (


I’ve confirmed with the management at Molly Malone’s (Circular Road behind Boat Quay) that they’ll be showing the Leeds game live at 10pm Sat 17th (they may be the only place doing this as the alternative game is Singapore XI vs. Baggies), as well as Newcastle the week after.

John Riley (


One spare ticket available for the Leeds versus MCFC game. It is in the East Stand (Leeds fans) but is away from the headbanger element in the North Stand. It is marked obstructed view but the Leeds ticket office said it wasn’t that bad. Face value £33.00.

Thanks, Graham Oliver (


I was looking through and to my delight saw that City’s opening game at Leeds is being shown on Fox Sport World at 1pm Eastern (12pm Central). They are also showing the game again the following Tuesday on Fox Sports Net for those who set the VCR to the wrong channel! Question is do you follow it on the Internet or wait the three hours and watch it “live”?

We’re back boys and girls!

Dave Hoffman (


For all septic Blues and US ex-pats, Leeds vs. City is on Fox Sports World this Saturday at 12:00pm EST (2 hour tape delay). A couple of links to keep an eye on from week to week for future games:

Martin Price (


I rather romantically booked a weekend in Paris for me and the wife at the end of August. Trouble is City are on Sky against Newcastle (Sat 24th August). Anybody know where the game will be shown? Don’t worry the wife knows the real me so I should be able to get away with it!

Thanks, Craig Bennett (


In response to Joe O’Brien in the MCIVTA 835, try the web address – this online translator can apparently translate Croatian into English.

Jim Needham (


I know you’ve read these pleas for help before but after 7 years “down under” it is time for me and my wife to make a pilgrimage back to Maine Road, and the Manchester team in action after years of occasional viewings on cable here in Australia. Does anyone have spare tickets (2) for the Blackburn game, to make my trip to the UK complete, and see me through many more years of football isolation? Anyone who can help will be sufficiently rewarded.

My fingers are crossed! Thanks.

Alan Bowl (

MCIVTA FAQ [v0203.02]

[0] How do I contact MCIVTA?

Articles (Heidi Pickup) :
News/rumour (Don Barrie) :
Subscriptions (Geoff Donkin) :
Technical problems (Paul) :

Comments concerning this FAQ should be sent to David Warburton using the address:

[1] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally Monday and Thursday evenings.

[2] MCIVTA Back Issues and Manchester City Supporters’ home page is the unofficial Manchester City Supporters’ home page. Created in 1994, it is the longest running of the Manchester City related web sites. Back issues of MCIVTA are also hosted on the site.

[3] What is the club’s official web site?

The official club web site can be found at

[4] What supporters’ clubs are there?

Manchester City FC recognises three supporters’ clubs: The “Official Supporters Club” (; the “Centenary Supporters’ Association” ( and “The International Supporters’ Club” (

[5] Where can I find out about the fans’ committee?

The Fans’ Committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. It has its own website, containing info about forthcoming meetings as well as minutes from previous gatherings.

[6] Where can I find information about our new stadium?

The latest information regarding the progress of our new home can be found at

[7] What match day broadcasts are available on the web?

Live match commentaries and archives of games, reports and interviews can be found here: An alternate live commentary service, hosted by Yahoo, is located at: GMR Saturday Sport is also available live online between 1-3pm, and 4.45-6pm at

[8] Are City’s goals available on the net? has available for download, usually within 24-48 hours of a game being played, all the goals from City’s matches.

[9] What’s the music the teams run out to?

The music we ran out to at Maine Road during the 01/02 season was “Nightmare” by Brainbug and is available on the Positiva label.

[10] Acknowledgements

Thanks go to John Arnold for providing the information regarding match day music and to Ian Bell for pointing out the alternate live match commentary service.

The views expressed in MCIVTA are entirely those of the subscribersand there is no intention to represent these opinions as being thoseof Manchester City Football Club, nor of any of the companies anduniversities by whom the subscribers are employed. It is not inany way whatsoever connected to the club or any other relatedorganisation and is simply a group of supporters using this mediumas a means of disseminating news and exchanging opinions.

[Valid3.2]Heidi Pickup,

Newsletter #836