Bolton born Francis Lee had a great impact on the fortunes of Manchester City both as a player and later as Chairman. Lee was perhaps the final piece of the Mercer-Allison team puzzle when he signed in October 1967. His arrival helped City to the title and brought a new dimension to the team's play. He soon became a favourite to the crowd by his bustling style and dogged tenacity.
The 1970 League Cup final was the game that made the outside world realize what a great player he was. Although he didn't score it was perhaps his gretest of many wonderful performances for City.
During the early 70ies Lee scored an incredible number of penalties. His ferocious penalty expertise more or less guarantieed a goal, and he still has the record for most scored goals during a season.
Lee made his England debut in December 1968 against Bulgaria and his last was against West Germany in April 1972. He scored 10 goals in 27 appearances for England. Ironically enough Lee was asked to take two penalties for England, and missed them both.....
Lees last game for City was against United in 1974. After that he was transferred to Derby County. Behind the scenes politics and a rife between the player and the Chairman Peter Swales, saw Lee depart in an unfriendly fashion. Lee helped Derby claim the League title, and retired from football in 1976. It looked like he had turned his back on football and instead be became a very successful business manager, with a huge affection for race horses.
Then in 1993 when City i\on the brink of becoming the laughing stock of British football, Lee started his campaign to claim the power over Manchester City. After months of struggle, and with great help from the fans, he was able to gain control and enter the corridors at Maine Road as Chairman.
Lee transformed the club considerably and made it far more professional than before, but the price was high. City coud not afford to attract expensive players, and soon they also had to rid themselves with the most experienced and well paid of their own staff. Players like Keith Curle, Nial Quinn and Garry Flitcroft all left during Lees first years, and the appointment of Alan Ball as Manager was not Lee's wisest move during his short time in charge.
However Lee will always be strongly connected to the signing of one of City's most spectacular players in the 90ies. During four seasons between 1995 and 1998, a little Georgian named Georgiou Kinkladze was to perform his magic at Maine Road, and entertain a spell bound audience. Despite the influence of Kinkladze, City was not able to avoid the drop down two divisions, and only weeks before City was relegated to the second Division in 1997, a position they never before had experienced, Lee resigned as Chairman and left the club in the hands of David Bernstein.
Lee will forever have a place in the hearts of the City supporters. His
failure as Chairman will be overshadowed by his brilliant performances
as a player and goalscorer.