Newsletter #923

News tonight of potential new sponsors, player comings and goings, the UEFA draw, and plenty more.

This one goes out to 3,254.

Next game: to be announced


General News

In Memorium: As reported in MCIVTA on Monday, the club organised a memorial service at Maine Road for the families of City fans whose loved ones’ ashes have been scattered or buried at Maine Road. Over 1,000 people attended the service, which was presided over by Club Chaplain, the Reverend Tony Porter. The service included a number of hymns and readings, as well as an opportunity for prayer and reflection. Floral tributes were laid at the side of the pitch and visitors visited the parts of the ground where their loved ones were laid to rest. The Club has promised each family who attended Saturday’s service a plot of turf from the Maine Road pitch to keep as a remembrance.

The Problems of Youth: City’s Youth Academy is facing a threat to its elite status, say reports this week. The FA has warned City that they could lose Academy status for the Platt Lane training complex unless they provide a full-size indoor pitch. Plans were put forward to cover a pitch with some kind of inflatable tent, but this scheme faces opposition from local residents. If this impasse remains, the club will have to consider severing its last link with the community in the vicinity of Maine Road. A City spokesperson said this week: “We very much want to stay in Moss Side, but if the council won’t accept our request to build this structure we will have to look into alternative potential sites”.

China in Their Hands? City MD Alistair Mackintosh has revealed that five companies including one from China have expressed an interest in sponsoring City. He has also said that First Advice’s sponsorship of the club may continue in some form. “We need to put what is happening with the sponsorship in context,” explained Mackintosh. “We don’t know what will happen with the First Advice brand, which I believe is likely to keep going in some form or other. I certainly hope so for those people whose jobs have been affected. At the moment it is very much in the hands of the administrator as to what extent First Advice will continue. I certainly don’t think they will continue in the same form as before and therefore we will increase our family of sponsors. We have already been approached by five people who would love to sponsor the club and now of course we are negotiating from a different position. We are in the top half of the Premiership, we are moving to a new stadium and we are in Europe. So it is a great opportunity. And it may be that these people we are talking to if we do not come to an agreement on shirt sponsorship we might come to an agreement on something else. We have approximately half a million supporters here at home and a massive overseas appeal and one of the people who have approached us is from China where our match against Everton was beamed to three hundred and fifty million people.” The Mackintosh Man says that it’s impossible to quantify the financial benefits of City’s UEFA Cup participation, although the potential for high revenues exists. “We are all very excited about being in Europe just because it is such a massive opportunity,” stressed the MD. “But from a financial point of view we really don’t know what it will mean for us. It depends on many things, for instance how far we progress in the competition, as the prize money is only there towards the end. It depends on who we draw in each round as we hopefully progress in the competition. I feel we will sell out games at the City of Manchester Stadium. People are so excited about seeing us in Europe again I feel we will take a massive away support as well. But as I say financially it depends on many things. From a television perspective the big fees are only further on in the competition where you can get the big draws or if we drew someone from the British Isles.”

Going, Going, Gone: Those of you who harboured thoughts about liberating your seats from Maine Road (you know who you are), may now have a chance to do so legitimately. City are planning an auction from 10.00am on Sunday 13 July, with a viewing day will be held on Saturday 12 July, from 10.30am to 4.30pm. Items available include; the penalty and centre circle spots, doors from the manager’s office, a mahogany players’ treatment table from the 1930’s (I have a horrible feeling that may have been in use up to the present day!), a white tactics boards from the home dressing room and the physio’s room, and much, much more. Individual stadium seats are being offered to season ticket holders on an application basis before 30 June; thereafter a limited number of seats will be available for purchase by other fans.

Case Dismissed: Assistant manager and former player Asa Hartford has escaped punishment this week after his case in the magistrates’ courts was dismissed. I’ll let the M.E.N. give you more details. Under the headline “Hartford Drink Case Collapses”, the paper stated that “Manchester City legend Asa Hartford has walked free on a drinking-driving charge after police lost all vital papers showing results of a breath test. The assistant manager at City was charged with driving with excess alcohol and driving an uninsured vehicle after being arrested in December last year. But the trial collapsed yesterday because prosecutors could not produce evidence that the machine used to carry out a breath test at Blackburn police station had been properly prepared.”

International Blues: The only City boy who saw full-on Euro 2004 action this week was Niclas Jensen. Nic played in both of Denmark’s fixtures, a 1-0 victory over Norway on Saturday, followed by a 2-0 defeat of Luxembourg on Wednesday. Jensen can claim an assist on the Danes’ second goal, which Thomas Gravesen of Everton cracked home from a pass from City’s left-back. The Republic of Ireland also won twice this week (2-1 versus Albania, 2-0 against Georgia), but did so without the considerable presence of Richard Dunne. Dunnie was an unused substitute against Albania, and was not in the squad after an Achilles injury had ruled him out of contention for the Georgia game. Eyal Berkovic meanwhile is still recuperating from surgery so didn’t feature in Israel’s 0-0 draw with Slovenia last week. Elsewhere, Stephen Paisley played in the first half, while Brian Murphy sat on the bench as the Republic of Ireland’s under-21 team beat Albania 2-1 last Friday.

Transfer News and Gossip

Howey’s Fox Trot: [Headline c/o ‘The Sun’ – why try to improve on tabloid perfection?] Steve Howey has agreed to join newly-promoted Leicester City. Howey arrived at The Walkers Stadium on Thursday to agree personal terms after the two clubs had agreed a fee thought to be £300,000. The 31-year-old central defender has signed a one-year deal, subject to a medical, after making 103 appearances for the Blues. Leicester manager Micky Adams told the club’s website: “We are delighted to be getting Steve on board. I’ve been looking for players with Premiership experience and Steve undoubtedly fits the bill. He’s a former England player and I am confident he can still do a very good job at this level. It is pleasing to get the first signing out of the way and at such a good price.” Howey will be able to enjoy the company of a former City team-mate – Paul Dickov recently signed an extended deal with the Foxes.

Dear Prudence: Chairman John Wardle is obviously keen to show what a prudent chap he is. He has been at pains to stress this week that funds for transfers are limited, and that some players will inevitably have to leave to balance the books. Speaking after last week’s double signings of David Seaman and Michael Tarnat, Wardle said “They are good deals for us. That is the way that football seems to be going now. There are very few fees out there and the days of the big heavy fees are gone. It is all now down to wages. We can cope with that a lot easier. Kevin and I had a meeting a few weeks ago about what can be done in the summer. He knows exactly where we are with things and he will pursue them accordingly. Kevin knows what is left. There is very little money in football and I don’t think there are going to be any massive transfer fees this summer, with the possible exception of one or two. I think most clubs are looking at Bosmans. Apart from being a great footballer and manager, Kevin is also a good businessman. He knows the financial situation and I’m sure that he will be working with the idea of moving players out. I think some will have to move on. I feel some players will have to go as it will be to everyone’s benefit so the players can get regular football and we can lower the wage bill. We have not prioritised as to the number of players who will go but the board of directors have a wage ceiling and then it is down to myself and the manager to make sure we stay to that level.” Media reports suggest that Paul Ritchie, Gerard Wiekens, Shaun Goater and Kevin Horlock are set to follow Steve Howey and leave this summer.

Dog Lover Mike: Michael Tarnat has admitted he is relishing the prospect of playing in the Premiership next term, saying it was Kevin Keegan that prompted him to quit Die Bundeslegia. “My main reason to opt for Manchester City was Kevin Keegan,” said Tarnat on German TV. “Keegan knows me and he wanted me and, due to his time in Die Bundeslegia with Hamburg, he still speaks some words of German – this matched perfectly. I also talked a lot about the Premiership with [former Bayern team-mate] Markus Babbel and he encouraged me to move to England. I am not leaving Bayern on bad terms, but, given my age, it was clear that my time there was over, but my heart will always belong to them,” declared the 33-year-old. Revealing the speed of his transfer, Tarnat said “They asked me if I’d be interested on Saturday and, on Monday, I flew over to England. We had a chat and I took a look at their facilities and, after passing the medical, the deal was done. Everything fitted so well and now I am able to realise my dream of playing in England.” And just to prove what a good guy Tarnat is, it’s been revealed that when finalising the deal, the player had concerns about transporting his two dogs to England. The club were prepared to pay for the dogs to fly over to England, but Tarnat refused as one of the dogs has a heart condition. He’s prepared to drive the animals over to England himself.

Goldenballs at The Citadel? All the domestic media reckon that D.Beckham Esq. could be signing for Barcelona this week. Just a thought – bearing in mind City’s pre-season fixture in August, it could be that Old Goldenballs makes his début for his new club at the COMS. Won’t that be a nice “homecoming” for Leytonstone’s favourite Red son?

Cameroon Capers: Two “English club wants to sign over-priced Cameroonian midfielder” stories neatly dovetailed this week. On Sunday KK was reported to have opened talks with Real Madrid over the purchase of Geremi, who has spent a successful year on loan down by the Riverside with Middlesbrough. Boro would like to buy the player, but feel that Real’s valuation is too high (sound familiar?). The Spanish giants want £10 million, while Boro are offering only £3 million. City would presumably need to bid more than Middlesbrough, which seems odd considering KK’s refusal to meet Lyon’s fee for Marc Vivien Foe. If this report was meant to jolt the French club into accepting a lower offer for MVF, it seems to have worked. On Monday came news that KK was going to bring back Marc-Vivien Foe for a bargain £2.5 million after being offered a deal by Lyon. It the got even better for City’s finances – Foe’s agent Willie McKay has revealed today that the fee for Foe could be a very round figure – zero! Mackay said: “I have more or less reached an agreement that Marc Vivien Foe maybe allowed to go on a free transfer. I am in negotiations with Lyon financial director Marino Faccioli to see if he can go on a free. Manchester City are still very much keen on him and there are a few other clubs interested in him.” Which just goes to show – KK does know what to do in this current transfer market!

Mentioned in Dispatches: Could the Goat be about to become a Black Cat? No, it’s not some bizarre genetic experiment, but reports from the North East suggesting that Sunderland’s Mick McCarthy wants a new strike force in place by pairing Shaun Goater with Wimbledon’s David Connelly. John Wardle has said, however, that “Shaun is available for transfer, but at this stage nobody has come to us with any offer for his services.” Crewe Alexandra’s young striker Rob Hulse has been placed on the transfer list by his club after refusing the offer of a contract extension. Hulse, an alleged target of City, WBA, Norwich and Cardiff earlier in the year, scored 27 goals for the Alex last season during their promotion from Division Two. Speaking of Cardiff City, the Bluebirds have been mentioned as a possible destination for our disgruntled midfielder Eyal Berkovic, now that Portsmouth stated that they will not be purchasing the Israeli international. It’s unclear whether this move would appeal to Eyal, as it’s reported that he’d have to take a pay cut.

Ex-Blues’ News

Brighty’s Back: A month ago, Ian Brightwell’s career as a player seemed to be over. After an injury hit season, Brighty had been given a free transfer by Second Division Port Vale. Now he’s a player coach – back at Port Vale. The 35-year-old will assist ex-City boss Brian Horton, who first worked with the defender at Maine Road some ten years ago. “I have known him a long time and he wants to get into the coaching side of things,” said Horton. “I am the aggressor without a doubt and it is good to have someone who can react with the players and perhaps, act as a buffer. This is a good opportunity for him and is something I have done before with Steve McLaren and David Moss, who is now Macclesfield manager.” Moss was also Horton’s assistant at City.

McNab-a-Nation Waits: Thanks to James Walsh for keeping us up to date with the procrastinating world of Neil McNab. New Weymouth boss Steve Claridge is still waiting for City’s former midfield maestro to commit to the position of Assistant Manager at the non-league club. “Neil needs a little bit more time to make his mind up because it is a big decision for him. I’m hoping to hear from him sometime this week,” said Claridge. “Neil remains my number one choice and I’m hoping he chooses Weymouth.”

Old Folks’ Home: Blackpool are making a bid for Rochdale’s position as the Third Division’s rest home for former Blues. It’s been reported that manager Steve McMahon (played for City between 1991 and 1994) is talking to Bolton’s Colin Hendry (Blue from 1989 to 1991) and Barnsley’s Mike Sheron (1988 – 1994) with a view to taking the veteran pair to Bloomfield Road. McMahon is striving to improve on the Seasiders’ mid-table finish of last season.

Squad News

Weaving Back: Nicky Weaver is hoping this week to be given permission to begin light exercise once pre-season training begins in July. Weaver’s injured knee has made impressive progress recently, so the goalkeeper is flying to the USA next month to see his surgeon. “I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to do some sort of training during the pre-season but we will have to see,” he explained. “I am due back in America later in the summer and hopefully it will be good news, but you cannot take anything for granted with this kind of injury. Everything was going well, I came back around Christmas time and played for the reserves but a problem flared up in training one day after I saved a shot with my toes, which opened up the knee. It didn’t really settle down. I tried training on it but it just kept swelling up. That is why I ended up in America and had the same kind of micro-surgery that Paulo Wanchope had. I suppose if there is a positive it is that I am still relatively young, especially in goalkeeping terms. It is sometimes hard to stay upbeat because every time I think I am over the worst it comes back again but I am trying my best.”

Don Barrie (


Here’s a list of all the teams in the draw:

KS Vllaznia (ALB);
KS Dinamo Tirana (ALB) or KS Teuta (ALB);
UE Santa Coloma (AND);
FC Shirak (ARM);
SV Austria Salzburg (AUT);
Sporting Lokeren St-Niklaas Waaslan (BEL);
FK Zeljeznicar (BHZ);
FK Sarajevo (BHZ);
FC Dinamo Minsk (BLS);
FC Neman Grodno (BLS);
PFC Levski Sofia (BUL);
PFC Litex Lovech (BUL);
HNK Hajduk Split or NK Uljanik (CRO);
Two more teams from Croatia;
Anorthosis Famagusta FC (CYP);
APOEL Nicosia FC (CYP);
FC Slovan Liberec (CZE);
FC Midtjylland or Br