Newsletter #1277

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News from Don on Micah’s England début, potential January transfer targets and Uwe’s been given the red card.

We have a match report from Newcastle and a review of the 2006 Annual Report from Colin, together with opinions on various matters affecting MCFC at present.

Fulham visit on Saturday; we must be due a goalfest from City shortly, 4-0 anyone?

Next game: Fulham, home, 12.45pm Saturday 18 November 2006

NEWS SUMMARY

General News

We All Like Micah: On Friday came the first hints that Micah Richards would be named in the England squad for the friendly in Holland. And lo, it came to pass – indeed, once our old friend Gary Neville withdrew from the squad, Micah found himself a place in the starting line up. “This is unbelievable, something I have always dreamed about and talked about; dreaming and talking are one thing but the reality of actually being called up is just amazing,” Richards said on his management team’s website. “I’m just speechless. It’s important to remember the people who have helped to get me here, my Dad has been the biggest influence on my career, he has been unbelievable for me, he has always supported me 100 percent.” England boss Steve McClaren explained why he’d picked the lad. “I’ve watched him play a number of times and he’s a strong, quick and athletic player who has really impressed at Man City this season,” said the manager. “This match provides us with a great opportunity to have a look at him over the next few days, and he fully deserves his chance.” Joey Barton welcomed the call up, saying: “It’s fantastic news for him and great for the club. He’s an incredible 18-year-old and fully deserves it, he’s one of the best right backs in the country at the moment.” Micah became City’s youngest ever full England international, and England’s youngest defender as he took the field in Amsterdam. The game finished 1-1, and after the game McClaren was impressed by the débutant. He said: “Micah has come into the squad and not been fazed. It seems like he has been with us for years and I had no qualms about picking him. When you play Holland, you have to defend well in one-on-one situations. He did that, as he has always done for his club. He handled Arjen Robben and Rafael van der Vaart very well.” And in other international Blues news, Richard Dunne played the whole game for the Republic of Ireland in their 5-0 cruise against San Marino. Stephen Ireland had also been called up to the squad, but didn’t feature on the night. Georgios Samaras meanwhile was in Paris, as Greece faced France. He played 90 minutes, but couldn’t prevent the hosts winning 1-0.

Transfer News and Gossip

They All Like Micah As Well: Didn’t take them long did it? Five minutes after Micah Richards was named in the England squad (or so it seemed) Arsenal started sniffing about. According to Saturday’s journals, the North London lot are planning a January move for the boy Richards. The Daily Star says Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger aims to test City’s resolve over the new England squad member when the winter transfer window opens. Psycho was having none of it, however. “I don’t think we will struggle to hang on to Micah,” blasted Pearce. “He is not for sale. When Shaun Wright-Phillips left us the club was flat to the boards financially. That is not the case anymore and we want to hang on to him. When you look back to the negotiations over his new contract, never once did he turn round and say that leaving was an option for him.” And speaking of Shaunie, the old chestnut of his return to City on loan has popped up again. The Daily Star Sunday says SP is considering a January move to take SWP back to Eastlands on-loan for the second-half of the season.

Sidwell Well Set: It doesn’t sound like Steve Sidwell will be heading City-wards any time soon. Reading’s Sidwell was a summer target of Psycho, but the midfielder has revealed he’d like to open contract talks with his current club. “We will touch base in January and hopefully we can sit down again,” said Sidwell, who joined Reading in 2003 from Arsenal. “I want to stay in the Premier League for the rest of my career either with Reading or another club, but I think I can do it with Reading. At the moment sitting tight and not signing anything is the best thing for me to do. And every game is in front of a potential employer.”

Am In the Mood: Zamalak striker Amr Zaki is being linked with both City and Blackburn Rovers. Reports in Egypt are claiming the 23-year-old hitman has been the subject on interest from two Premiership clubs and both Rovers and City were linked with a move for the player in the summer. Zaki’s club Zamalak have been keen to play down talk of a move for the striker but reports are claiming two £2 million offers have been received and the Egyptian club are ready to cash in.

Stokes Interest Stoking Up: Everton, City and Middlesbrough are among the clubs to have been linked with Arsenal striker Anthony Stokes, currently impressing on loan at Falkirk. Stokes has scored 10 goals in five games for the SPL side this season and a host of scouts have headed north of the border to check out the striker. West Ham and Sunderland are also thought to be keen while Celtic have also been linked with a move for the teenage hitman. And if City are in the market for another lightweight winger, then they should look no further than Birmingham City’s Julian Gray. Blackburn, City, Charlton and Newcastle are all said to be chasing the former Arsenal trainee. The Sunday tabloids linked the Blues with another young forward – City are supposedly ready to offer £1 million for Scunthorpe striker Billy Sharp.

Possible Koren-ation: The Sunday Mirror brought word of a deal that at the time sounded like it might actually happen. It claimed City were going to hold talks with representatives of Lillestrom midfielder Robert Koren this week. The Mirror claimed former City star Uwe Rösler was key to the deal. With Koren out of contract in January having rejected Lillestrom’s final offer of a new deal, Rösler had alerted City boss Stuart Pearce to the midfielder’s availability. Surely this deal would go through, given the Uwe connection? Now read on…

Ex-Blues News

Rösler Bombed Out: On Monday, Lillestrom sacked Uwe as head coach, a day after the end of the Norwegian season. Lillestrom finished fourth in the league, nine points behind champions Rosenborg Trondheim. Rösler was the eighth coach to be sacked or resign from the Norwegian Premier League this season. “This is not worthy of Norwegian football. This will have negative implications for football,” said Teddy Moen, head of the Norwegian Football Coaches Association. “The clubs need a more long-term perspective. Only one team can win the league, and there will always be two teams that step down (to a lower division), so club owners need to be more realistic.”

Reactions and Comments

None for Sorrow: It depends on whether you’re a “glass half full” or a “glass half empty” sort of person. On Saturday City either (a) stretched their unbeaten home run to six matches, and have yet to concede a goal or (b) had their third home nil- nil draw at the COMS and slipped to 14th in the League. City should have wrapped up all the points in the second half but Barton and Corradi wasted good chances. Georgios Samaras had a goal chalked off by referee Graham Poll for a push earlier in the move by Bernardo Corradi. However, City must also be thankful a late Newcastle rally did not see the Magpies fly off with the points as Kieron Dyer and (you guessed it) Antoine Sibierski both went close before James Milner was left waiting in vain for a pass in the final second when completely unmarked in the middle of the City area. When asked if it had been a frustrating day at the office, SP said: “On the run of play, definitely. We’ve done everything bar put the ball in the back of the net; well we did that as well. We created a host of chances with a team that showed the desire to want to win a game a bit more. I’ll take the positives and say we’ve not conceded a goal and I’m very pleased with that. If we keep creating the chances we have done today then we will win games. Their ‘keeper’s played reasonably well, and when it’s dropped for us we’ve not been clinical enough, but we’ll keep working on that.”

Up the Poll: The TV pundits reckoned City were a bit unlucky to have Big George’s header disallowed. “It was a disappointing decision but the referee has given it and I support him in that,” said SP. “Overall, I thought Graham did well. He has been under a bit of a cloud this week. But, to be fair to him, he is not a shrinking violet. He makes decisions and if you ask a question of him he will come over and give you an honest answer, which you have to admire him for.” Man of the Match Joey Barton was asked for his opinion on the referee’s decision. “From where I was standing it looked pretty legitimate but if he has seen something he was a lot closer than me,” said the man of the match. “It is the same story again for us. We have battered them and not been able to put it in the net. We have gone for the win and committed a few players forward because we were desperate for the win but it wasn’t to be. We have ground out a result. If we had lost that 1-0 we would have been disappointed.”

Don’t Hold Your Breath… Time for a bit of positivity from the gaffer: “I was delighted with the effort,” Pearce said, “and if we keep creating chances like that we’ll score a hatful sooner rather than later.” As the Sunday paper that quoted Psycho said: “This is a recurring theme, however, and City fans are advised not to hold their breath.” This week’s under pressure manager, Glen Roeder, was happy with a point, if disappointed that his side’s late burst hadn’t snatched all three. Roeder told the Newcastle website: “We started off slowly, but that was because we had played a tough game in midweek that went into extra time. They had the better opportunities, and they put us under a lot of pressure. We were hanging onto their coat tails for the first 45 minutes, and we were happy at half time to be 0-0. We had to be better in the second half, and we were. Some of the passing was great, we put them on the back foot, and finished the game like the Newcastle that I know and how I want us to play. Normally a point away from home is the target, but we were so close to getting all three near the end there. We didn’t want the final whistle to come, because if there was going to be a winner at that stage it was going to be us.”

New Bus Required: Trevor Sinclair was once again the City club website’s favoured player spokesman. So what did you make of that Trev? “I think we’ve got to look at it and be disappointed. Apart from the last three or four minutes, I don’t think they created that much, Weaves had maybe one or two comfortable saves to make,” said Sinclair. “We had quite a lot of chances and on another day we would have scored two or three. But it just seems that’s the way it’s going for us in front of goal at the minute – not putting any criticism on the front men in any way – but we just don’t seem to be getting the rub of the green up there.”

Squad News

I Feel Good, I Knew That I Would: Hatem Trabelsi says he’s nearing peak form and fitness. “I feel good,” the former Ajax man told City’s website. “I had some problems at the start, I came here a bit late and the football is a little bit different to what I was used to in Holland. New players need time, you need a few weeks to adapt but I feel much better about everything now and I hope I can continue this way. The game is more physical here, in Holland it’s a bit more technical but it’s tough over here. You need that time to adapt, you need to train hard, you need pre-season and maybe it takes a couple of months to get used to it. I needed time to play in the way I can and now I feel better than I did a few weeks ago.” The Tunisian international, who played in three World Cups, added: “I don’t think I’ve given 100% to the team as yet, but that’s why I am starting to get better in the games now. I have only played for 20 minutes or 30 minutes so far, but when I feel I am at 100% I will be able to give the team my everything.”

Schmeichel’s Sidelined: Bury got themselves televised over the weekend, in their FA Cup First Round clash at Weymouth. But Kasper Schmeichel wasn’t there, as City refused the on-loan goalie permission to play. Bury were struggling for a ‘keeper, as Alan Fettis was out injured with a broken arm and former loanee Lewis Edge had returned to Blackpool. Instead, 19 year-old Aaron Grundy played in the 2-2 draw, and played very well according to reports. Before the game, Shakers’ boss Chris Casper explained his Kasper Konundrum. “We always knew that we might have this situation and we have tried to get players in,” said Casper. “It’s not something that has just landed on our doorstep. I have got no problem with Aaron starting the game and there is no question that he can do a good job. I spoke to Stuart Pearce the other day and got the response I thought I would – and that was that they can’t afford for Kasper to be cup- tied.” [Sure that it was not so that he could watch his dad dancing on Saturday night rather than play? – Ed]

Dabo’s Ready to Go: Ousamane Dabo is close to a first-team return after a knee injury, you’ll be thrilled to learn. The Frenchman has been out since the end of September after damaging a knee ligament in training. “He should not be far away, we are hoping that he will be able to join in training in some capacity some time this week,” said SP. “He is out running at the moment, which is a good sign. All the players that are out injured are out on the training pitch at some stage now doing some form of physical exercise, which is always good for a manager. It’s never easy to fit in at any club, and what you don’t want is a run of injuries that keeps you away from the rest of the players for any length of time. He sustained an injury, which was a big disappointment to us, but hopefully that’s going to be resolved very soon.”

Don Barrie <news(at)mcivta.city-fan.org>

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’: MCFC 0 NUFC 0

Last season saw us see off the Geordies comprehensively and in turn they saw off Souness. History seemed to be possibly repeating itself as the latest under pressure Newcastle manager brought his team to CoMS (or whatever it’s going to be called this week). The difference from last season was that Stuart Pearce was also now under some pressure. So neither team could really afford to lose and certainly not to lose badly.

The City line-up had Trabelsi on the right of midfield with Sinclair on the left and Vassell partnering Dickov up front. The Newcastle team contained one Monsieur Sibierski, late of these parts. The other notable participant was Graham Poll, making his first appearance at CoMS since the World Cup. There was of course a minute’s silence before the game, it being November 11th. Thinking of all those people who had given their lives put everything into perspective and, for a few minutes, football seemed less important. I was impressed by the sight of all the Newcastle scarves held aloft for the minute. Call me old fashioned but I do regard a football scarf as a necessary accessory.

Newcastle kicked off and the early omens weren’t good as Distin was sloppy twice in the early moments, once seeming to watch as Ameobi ran past him then taking the ball out for a corner when he was under no pressure. However, things changed for the better when Barton controlled a ball well and took it on a surging run into the area. He shot somewhat hastily and it went wide of the far post. He was in action again a few minutes later when he again controlled a loose ball beautifully and lashed a shot towards goal that Harper did well to tip over. Dunne headed well over from the corner.

City’s next opportunity was from a free kick that Barton floated towards Richards, in space, but it was just too high for him. Halfway through the first period the ball again fell to Barton, who eluded a crowd of players to get a shot away. It looked like it was blocked by a hand but the world’s best referee blew for a corner. Moments later Distin put a killer ball across the face of goal but no-one could get on the end of it. After some confusion over an injury there was a drop ball and Trabelsi went on a powerful run into the Newcastle area but was outnumbered by defenders.

Newcastle then had a rare attack and Duff looked to have broken through the back-line but was well tackled by Richards. It was then the turn of our left full-back to get in the action, Thatcher putting over a really good cross that the defender had to turn behind.

There was little other action in what had been a first half full of effort but largely empty of quality. The announcer promised us “10 minutes of entertainment” during the interval and that was about 8 more than we’d had in the last 45 minutes. There a guy doing all sorts of clever things with a ball whereas some of the 22 professionals on show looked like they’d never seen a football before.

The second half started with Richards having a fairly optimistic punt at goal from well outside the area. Then a good switch of play from the left to the right ended with a ball played into the area but no one seemed to know what to do with it. The next action saw Barton play Dickov in for a shot but he seemed to delay to try to tee himself up better and his shot was weak and saved. After 15 minutes of the second period, SP had seen enough and brought on the two strikers, Corradi and Samaras, replacing Reyna and Dickov, Vassell moving onto the left and Sinclair into the middle. I’m not convinced that these SP substitutions really help but Corradi was in action straight away with a low header from a free kick that was saved by Harper. He then had a shot that nearly ended up going out for a throw in. However, I simply don’t understand why we started with two small strikers in the first place. Surely one of Corradi or Samaras has to start every game? I also don’t understand why Ireland didn’t replace Sinclair. He’s good enough for Ireland apparently but not for us.

Sinclair was Corradi’s next provider, doing well to set him up for a header that went just wide. He then had yet another chance, getting a contact on a ball swept in low from the left but Harper just got a touch on it and managed to hold on at the second attempt. Then on nearly 70 minutes, Samaras had the ball in the net from a corner but referee Poll had seen an infringement. Well, what did you expect – that he would give us a goal?

City continued to press for the winner that only they looked capable of scoring and Samaras played the ball out to Trabelsi on the right, who returned the favour by crossing in for Samaras. He just didn’t get much of a touch on it though and the merest of glances meant it went well wide of the far post. Like Middlesbrough in the previous home game, Newcastle poured forward and finally got a shot on target, in injury time I think, that Richards did very well to block. It really would have been a travesty if Newcastle had got a goal as they hadn’t been in the game over 90 minutes but would any of us really have been surprised if they had nicked it? So it ended goalless with both sides taking a much-needed point. We had been the better of two very mediocre teams but, yet again, our inability to convert our chances had cost us a win. So it was a stay of execution for both managers but far from a pardon for either.

Performances:
Weaver 6. We could have played without a goalie to be honest.
Richards 7. Typical Micah performance but little in evidence going forward.
Distin 6. Went to sleep a few times but other than that fine on an easy afternoon.
Dunne 7. As solid as ever.
Thatcher 7. Untroubled by Milner mostly and a couple of good crosses.
Trabelsi 6. Starting to get himself noticed as he settles in. Some surging runs.
Barton 8. A good game all round and easily the best midfield player on show.
Reyna 5. If a good referee isn’t noticed, he will make a good ref. Anonymous.
Sinclair 6. Usual story – lots of effort, little end product.
Vassell 6. Rarely as effective as he can be. Tends to drift out left in possession.
Dickov 5. Sometimes effort makes up for lack of skill. Not today it didn’t.
Subs:
Corradi 7. Did well actually but needs that goal.
Samaras 5. Nice Saturday afternoon stroll for him. Not good enough.

Overall Out-of-the-Seat Factor 4. Generally it was a pretty dull game.

Colin Savage <colin(at)cjsavage.co.uk>

OPINION: ANNUAL REPORT 2006

This finally popped through my letterbox though we’ve known the bare bones of the financial results for the last few weeks. However, the devil is in the detail and so I have waited until I see the full picture to give you the expected review of the accounts. Frankly very little has changed since the last annual report. Some of the long term debt has been repaid and of course the sale of Shaun Wright Phillips has made a big impact on the financial picture, at least this year. However, here’s the full story.

Looking at the pre-amble to the figures, one thing stands out. In the Report of the Directors on page 9 we are treated to a statement about how the club supports the highest standards of corporate governance. Yet we find that our Chief Executive is still a member of the Audit Committee.

Just to remind you, this committee is responsible for reviewing the annual report and accounts, ensuring compliance with accounting policies and satisfying itself as to the adequacy of external and internal reviews. The relevant guidelines, including the Smith Report published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (of which our Chief Executive is a member, I believe) state that this should consist of two, independent, non-executive directors. As an example, there are nine directors at Arsenal and four non-executives on their audit committee.

As for the figures, turnover has increased slightly from £60.9 million to £61.8 million but it is interesting to see how this is made up. In the official release of the results the increase in conference income was highlighted, together with the £3.4 million drop in merit money and the £1.5 million increase in ticket sales resulting from our FA Cup run. These were very selective highlights as they full picture shows. Ticket income was up by £0.6 million to £15.7 million this year. Therefore if the FA Cup run swelled our coffers by £1.5 million then we lost nearly £1 million elsewhere, presumably in league game income.

TV income was down by £1.9 million overall, less than the £3.4 million we lost in merit money. Therefore presumably the extra (£1.5 million) was largely made up by the TV income from the cup run. This demonstrates the financial value of a good cup run if an appearance in the 6th round can add nearly £3 million to our coffers. Commercial income, including the increase in conference revenues, was up by £2.2 million.

Operating expenses are down by £5 million but most of that is accounted for by the drop in player amortisation. You will remember from my previous articles that this was not unexpected as we had sold some of our costlier players during or since the end of the previous financial year. However, looking at the supporting note (10) shows that the cost of player acquisitions was £9.4 million. I’d like to know exactly how this is made up as it can’t be just fees. The major acquisitions in these accounts are Samaras, Cole, and Vassell, and our maximum liability for Samaras was supposed to be around £6 million but not all of that was paid, as I understand it.

The major element of operating expenses is staff wages. Note that this is not just player wages but includes all the administrative staff, including Alistair Mackintosh. He is the one person whose salary we know as it is declared in the directors’ report on page 12. He has secured for himself a 37.5% increase in his basic salary, going from £173,000 to £238,000. The report of the remuneration committee (Bryan Bodek and John Wardle) doesn’t detail exactly how this increase was determined, talking about the need to reflect the performance of the individual and the group and the comparable remuneration at other, similar companies. The emoluments of the highest paid director at Everton and Tottenham, for example, were £177,000 and £156,000 respectively in 2005 compared to the nearly £235,000 paid to Alistair Mackintosh in that year. On the other hand directors at some other clubs are paid much more.

Wages overall have fallen from £37.7 million in 2005 to £34.3 million. The previous year’s figure presumably included the pay-off to Keegan plus the impact of our poorer performance, reflected in lower win bonuses. However, looking at the number of players that have left either during or since the 2005 financial period this figure seems still too high. I know I’m not the only one to have raised eyebrows at the size of this figure considering all the departures and would have expected a figure around £30 million. Given that our main hope of generating cash for transfer activity is by driving down costs, this is disappointing. John Wardle and Alistair Mackintosh have recently pointed out the need for higher wages to be reflected in performances. I think that even they would agree with me that we are some way off that virtuous circle at the moment.

The net effect of all this is to reduce our operating loss from £8 million last year to £2.1 million this year. However, this loss is transformed when we add in the £19.1 million profit on disposal of players. Don’t forget that this is worked out on the book value of players (cost less amortisation), not simply their original cost. As SWP cost us nothing anyway then his sale for £21 million obviously helped to boost the bottom line, giving us a final profit of over £10 million. But we are not going to be able to do this every year. Taking out the player sale profit would actually give us a loss of £9 million for the year.

The other item of crucial interest is the loans, both the secured loans from third parties and the internal loans from Messrs. Wardle & Makin. On the first there is some good news in that £1.27 million has been repaid from the original £44 million although it is not made clear whether this is in addition to any capital repayments via the normal repayment schedule. You may well have seen the headlines trumpeting the fall in net external debt from £38.5 million to £32.2 million this year and been pleased that we had made such inroads into our debt. Well it’s certainly a move in the right direction but don’t get too excited. £2.2 million of this was repaid as part of an agreement to repay a loan of £4.4 million over two years and that’s now complete. Another £2.4 million of this reduction was due to the increase in cash at bank of that amount. The rest (£1.7 million) presumably mainly reflects the repayment of part of the long-term debt.

The £19.2 million loans from Wardle & Makin are also not included in this £32.2 million and the bad news is that not a penny of these has been repaid. So our total net debt is £51.4 million but when you take out the £9.8 million cash we are showing, our total debt is £61.2 million. This is the figure we actually owe to internal and external parties and can be cross checked against Note 27. Debt due within one year is £19.6 million and debt due after one year is £41.6 million, making £61.2 million in all. If you also add in the outstanding interest of £2.8 million owed to Wardle & Makin then that figure goes up to £64 million (we have shown this interest in the Profit & Loss Account but haven’t paid it yet so it’s a debt that probably appears in Creditors). So if you heard the figure of £32.2 million and thought we’d halved our debt then I’m sorry to have to disappoint you on this score.

Nothing much has changed in the Balance Sheet apart from a fall of £5.2 million in Deferred Income. This, you may remember, is income we’ve had in that relates to a future financial year. A lot of this therefore is season ticket receipts that come in for renewals in March and April. We knew that renewals were down for this season but this shows just how badly we may have been hit (there may well be other things in there however).

The cash flow statement is interesting. This shows the actual cash movements during the financial year and is an excellent indicator of our financial health. If that’s the case then we’re not too well overall. It shows that without the introduction of new finance (i.e. more loans) we generated £2.4 million cash in the year. This would be a cause for celebration but for one thing. We received £21.6 million cash in player sales, paying out £9.7 million for purchases. That makes a net £11.9 million inflow and when you take that out of the equation means that, excluding player transfer cash, we actually “lost” £9.5 million cash over the year.

I can’t see how this is sustainable on our current financial performance and unless we take steps to match our outgoings to our income then even the new Sky deal will only keep us going for so long. However, it may well help us ward off any unwelcome approaches for Micah Richards, assuming we can hang on to him that long, as selling our more marketable players is one of the few ways we seem to have of making up the cash shortfall.

This statement also possibly gives some clue as to the destination of the SWP proceeds. It seems that much has been “soaked up” by our working capital requirements. Looking at the cash flow statement showed we generated only £612,000 cash via our normal operating activities. We also had to pay the following:

Net interest payable: £3.1m
Lease interest paid: £2.4m
Purchase of players: £9.7m
Purchase of other fixed assets: £0.5m
Loan capital repaid: £4.1m

This totals £19.8 million and therefore doesn’t leave much change from £21 million. It’s no wonder that the club seem so keen to persuade the council to allow them to sell the stadium naming rights, which is the only conclusion we can reasonably draw from a story in the Manchester Evening News last week.

(http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/manchestercity/s/227/227642_why_blues_must_cash_in_on_name_game.html)

The AGM is on Thursday 7th December at 10:00am and I’m sure it will be interesting but hope there will be more time allowed for questions than there was last year.

Colin Savage <colin(at)cjsavage.co.uk>

OPINION: PULLING UP THE DRAWBRIDGE… ?

I fully support Ian Barton’s article in McV recenly, and had to laugh at Paul Tyrell’s attempt at damage limitation. Ian, like many other supporters, speaks from the heart when he says things and he knows from experience what he is talking about, people only put forward their views because they care passionately about their club and they can sense the mire it is being dragged into. Paul gets paid good money for defending the club and deflecting fans’ views but it does not make him right; instead of having a go at fans, a bit more common sense and thought is needed.

It seems like an “us and them” situation now where all the fans want is to be a part of our football club and not be treated as some mugs who will turn up week after week to shell out their money and then not allowed to air their views. Let’s get one thing right: club officials should do all they can to help the fans. I wish Paul was always as quick to reply to fans’ concerns, but it seems to me the club have a siege mentality and will only respond when they think they are under attack.

I have been told in the past to stop asking friends at Carrington to get shirts signed for charity fund raisers; not to contact the Chairman, Manager and Directors direct but to go through a third party; not to write but to send emails instead! As many of you know, we do a lot of fund raising and this is the second anniversary that the club has refused to send a player / Director to raise money for Henshaws for the Blind Childrens Christmas Party fund raiser at the Prestwich & Whitefield branch HQ. This was a tradition that went back 12 years. I apologise for repeating the fact that a couple of years ago we were charged £50 for a signed City shirt even though the money raised was for the Youth Academy!

Kind Regards, Don Price – ex-chair, P&W branch <cathdon.price(at)virgin.net>

OPINION: … DEPENDS WHICH SIDE YOU ARE

I read with great interest the comments from Ian Barton (MCIVTA 1273) and the reply on behalf of the club by Paul Tyrrell in MCIVTA 1275.

Ian was obviously well within his rights to voice those opinions, which many fans would identify with, and I for one appreciated Paul’s enlightening response.

I greatly appreciate the fact that the club’s officials read our comments, and appreciate our concerns enough to respond to an open forum – I very seriously doubt if there are many clubs, if any, in the Premiership that would make the effort to do so and I value that.

I should add that I have met Paul Tyrell and some of his staff during the City tour of Thailand a season back. I sent an email to the club months before the tour asking would it be possible for my wife (Thai), our two little boys and myself to meet the players. Not only did Paul reply, but on their arrival he was very open to my offer of local help, arranged for us to meet all the players at training (our three year old as he was then, became an overnight David James and Sun Jihai fan after meeting them), arranged complimentary tickets for the games for us and guests (a Chelsea supporter and wife who marvelled at the club’s accessibility to its supporters, which he was adamant would never happen at Chelsea past or present), and made my wife and some of her married-to-fellow-expat girlfriend’s week by accepting their offer of use of their Thai-language skills to accompany the players on a shopping-trip to help navigate them safely around Bangkok’s myriad shops and bargain prices for them. Fantastic experience for a life-long Blue and I repeat, we didn’t offer any help initially to Paul but he was extremely accommodating from day one in our exchange in offering me so much access to the club and I like to think we were able to ‘scratch each other’s backs’ a little.

So if you have a grievance, point to make, whatever, just approach the man, that’s what he’s there for!

And what a difference 15 months makes eh, back then my wife was taking young, unknown but future first-team players Micah Richards, Stephen Ireland and Jonathan D’Laryea shopping for jeans and last night Micah was turning out for England – oh, and the wife says Micah takes 34″ waist / 34″ leg, in case you were interested.

Peter Carlisle <Carlisle(at)loxinfo.co.th>

OPINION: BLUE TIPPLE

After a recent trip to Washington DC I have discovered an American beer called Blue Moon, which has recently just won beer of the year in the States, not a bad tasting white Belgium beer, but with Christmas looming just around the corner this could be an ideal stocking filler.

Check out the Coors website http://www.coors.com/, after all we need something to cheer us all up and maybe this could be the answer!

Keep the faith.

Nick Mayor <mayo(at)nickmayor.freeserve.co.uk>

OPINION: ATTENDANCES

It was nice to see Paul Tyrrell come out and talk directly to MCIVTA and I’m sure many of the readers will have an opinion on what he said. I wanted to comment on one particular thing.

He mentioned that falling attendances are a general problem and I already know that Alistair Mackintosh is on a Premier League Working Party looking at the issue. I looked at the figures for the last four full seasons and got a bit of a surprise.

I just took the 15 clubs that were in the Premiership for all of those four seasons (2002/3 to 2005/6) and took their average league attendances over those seasons, adding these up to give a “total average”.

The figures were as follows:

2002/3          539,029
2003/4          552,075
2004/5          552,668
2005/6          544,148

The total went up slightly in 2003/4 mainly due to our move to CoMS and the 13,000 extra capacity that this gave us but was remarkably consistent the next season. However, it did dip last season by 8,500. Looking at the individual averages shows that this was not general but concentrated on three clubs:

Middlesbrough   -3,500
Aston Villa     -3,200
Manchester City -2,300

These three accounted for a drop of 9,000 in total average attendance therefore. Birmingham (who were relegated) and Blackburn also showed small falls but all other clubs either remained pretty constant or had slight increases. Obviously the rest of the changes in attendances will depend on which clubs are in the Premiership at any one time, which is why I chose the ones who had been constantly there over the four previous seasons.

I think we can all work out why the three teams above suffered the biggest falls. The fans of all three know they aren’t going to win the Premiership or even get into the top four. But as long as their crowds are entertained, they will probably still come in numbers. And even just attracting back the missing 2,300 would put £1.5 million in the coffers.

Colin Savage <colin(at)cjsavage.co.uk>

REQUEST: MCFC ACCOUNTS

Can anyone provide me with a link to the MCFC 2006 accounts? I have tried the City Club site and the relevant exchange site where both have supposed links to a PDF but both take you to a summary statement. After Colin’s excellent review of the 2005 accounts I am keen to go through last year’s.

Andrew Powell <andrew_powell(at)tesco.net>

REQUEST: CHRISTMAS DISCOUNT!

As a sideline I run Manchester Born & Blue; a number of MCIVTA readers bought the “Which is more offensive: Rooney’s face or Joey’s @rse?” T shirt some time ago, so as a thank you gesture to MCIVTA readers you can get £2.00 off all purchases ordered before 30th of November, the shop is at http://www.spreadshirt.net/shop.php?sid=126126 and the discount code is XMAS06; deliveries placed by the 30th should arrive in time for the derby and in addition £1.00 from every purchase will be donated to the Academy.

Ian Ferguson <ian(at)aim-knowledge.com>

RESULTS

League table to 13 November 2006 inclusive

                             HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F   A   GD Pts
 1 Manchester Utd  12  5  0  1 13  2  5  1  0 14  3 10  1  1  27   5  22  31
 2 Chelsea         12  5  1  0 13  3  4  0  2  9  4  9  1  2  22   7  15  28
 3 Arsenal         11  3  3  0 12  3  3  0  2  7  3  6  3  2  19   6  13  21
 4 Aston Villa     12  4  2  0 10  3  1  4  1  5  6  5  6  1  15   9   6  21
 5 Bolton Wndrs    12  3  1  2  5  5  3  2  1  7  6  6  3  3  12  11   1  21
 6 Portsmouth      12  4  1  1 10  3  2  1  3  7  7  6  2  4  17  10   7  20
 7 Everton         12  3  2  1 10  5  1  3  2  6  6  4  5  3  16  11   5  17
 8 Wigan Athletic  11  3  1  1 10  6  2  1  3  6  7  5  2  4  16  13   3  17
 9 Liverpool       12  5  1  0 13  3  0  1  5  1 12  5  2  5  14  15  -1  17
10 Fulham          12  3  1  2  5  5  1  4  1  8 11  4  5  3  13  16  -3  17
11 Reading         12  3  1  2  8  9  2  0  4  5  9  5  1  6  13  18  -5  16
12 Tottenham H.    12  4  1  1  7  4  0  2  4  2 10  4  3  5   9  14  -5  15
13 Middlesbrough   12  4  0  2  6  7  0  2  4  4  9  4  2  6  10  16  -6  14
14 Manchester City 12  3  3  0  4  0  0  1  5  3 14  3  4  5   7  14  -7  13
15 Blackburn R.    12  2  1  3  7  8  1  2  3  3  8  3  3  6  10  16  -6  12
16 West Ham United 12  3  1  2  7  6  0  1  5  2  9  3  2  7   9  15  -6  11
17 Sheff. United   12  1  3  2  6  8  1  1  4  1  8  2  4  6   7  16  -9  10
18 Newcastle Utd   12  1  2  3  5  7  1  1  4  2  7  2  3  7   7  14  -7   9
19 Watford         12  1  4  1  7  6  0  2  4  2 11  1  6  5   9  17  -8   9
20 Charlton Ath.   12  2  1  3  4  6  0  1  5  5 12  2  2  8   9  18  -9   8

With thanks to Football 365

MCIVTA FAQ [v0607.01]

[1] MCIVTA Addresses

Articles (Heidi Pickup)          : editor@mcivta.city-fan.org
News/rumour (Don Barrie)         : news@mcivta.city-fan.org
Subscriptions (Madeleine Hawkins): subscriptions@mcivta.city-fan.org
Technical problems (Paul)        : paul@city-fan.org
FAQ (David Warburton)            : faq@mcivta.city-fan.org

[2] What are MCIVTA’s publishing deadlines?

Deadlines for issues are nominally 6pm, Monday and Thursday evenings bu email. Unfortunately we cannot accept email attachments.

[3] MCIVTA Back Issues and Manchester City Supporters’ home page

http://www.uit.no/mancity/ 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.

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

The official club web site can be found at http://www.mcfc.co.uk/

[5] What supporters’ clubs are there?

Manchester City FC recognises three supporters’ clubs: The “Official Supporters Club” (http://www.mcfcosc.com/); the “Centenary Supporters’ Association” (http://www.reddishblues.com/CSAWebsite/CSA.htm) and “The International Supporters’ Club”.

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

The Fans’ Committee operates as an interface between supporters and the club. The Fans’ Committee has been relaunched as “Points of Blue”. It has appeared on the club website as a minor entry under “Fans Zone”.

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

The Radio Manchester (née GMR) pre and post match phone-in is available on the web at http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/sport/manchester_city/index.shtml.

Live match commentaries and archives of games, reports and interviews can be found at http://mcfc.videoloungetv.com/do/preLogin?clubSiteCode=MCFC&CMP=AFC-003.

[8] Where can I find out if City are live on satellite TV?

http://www.satfootball.com/pl.html provides a listing of Premiership games being shown on UK domestic and foreign satellite channels. Useful sites for North American viewers are http://msn.foxsports.com/foxsoccer, http://www.soccertv.com/, and http://www.livesoccertv.com/.

[9] Do we have a Usenet newsgroup?

Yes we do: uk.sport.football.clubs.man-city is our home on usenet. If you are not familiar with usenet, a basic explanation is available here: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,289893,sid9_gci213262,00.html

[10] Do any squad members have their own web pages?

There are a number available and direct links can be found at http://www.uit.no/mancity/players/

[11] Can I buy shares in the club?

Yes you can: Shares in Manchester City PLC are traded on OFEX. The latest prices can be on found the Plus Markets Group web site http://www.plusmarketsgroup.com/ or in the business section of the Manchester Evening News.

[12] Where can I find match statistics?

Statistics for the current season are available from the club site, but for a more in-depth analysis try http://www.mcfcstats.com/.

[13] I hear there is a TV programme specifically about City?

InsideMCFC is broadcasted by ChannelM. It is available on the SkyDigital (ch.203) and NTL (ch.26) platforms as well as being transmittedtraditionally within the Manchester area (ch.39). In addition, theprogramme is available to watch via the web. More details and schedule:http://www.channelm.co.uk/features/city.html


DISCLAIMER
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, editor@mcivta.city-fan.org

Newsletter #1277

2006/11/16

Editor:


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