Newsletter #1251

After 3 long months, we are just 3 days away from our 2006-07 Premiership campaign. Excellent!

Tonight we have news of City finally confirming the friendly at Ballymena, Distin still pondering his future after Boro made a bid, success for the reserves and youth teams, and info on our new signings. All thanks to Sarah as Don is off on his jollies.

We also have a call for interest in a Supporters’ Trust, opinion on Porto and ticketing, and a plea from Moonbeam!

Next game: Chelsea, away 4pm Sunday 20 August 2006


City Take to Showground (to Play Ballymena): City have finally confirmed a friendly against Ballymena United, which will take place on Tuesday August 29 at The Showground, Ballymena with a 7.30pm kick off. The agreement to a match was one of the stipulations written into the contract of former Ballymena goalkeeper Richard McKinley when he made the move to City back in 1999. Former City ‘keeper, now Ballymena manager, Tommy Wright, believes “This will be a great boost for not only the club and the town but for Irish League football in general and will provide a great challenge to both myself and players. Games against sides of this calibre are few and far between and in the light of that I would like to express my thanks to Stuart Pearce and City first team coach Derek Fazackerley for facilitating our request.” [Not sure how Mr Wigley would react to that!] Wright met up with Stuart again at a recent UEFA Pro Licence coaching course and mentioned the possibility of the game, which he then arranged. City’s Box Office will receive 400 terrace tickets for the game priced at £10 each, but as these have not been received yet, those wishing to go are advised to watch the website for details.

Junior Blues to Live4City: City have re-vamped and renamed their famed Junior Blues Club. The new initiative, which comes in response to the Club’s Big Blue Survey, aims to attract 20,000 mainly Mancunian youngsters, and the basic scheme will be free to join. It is hoped that the new scheme will be as successful as Junior Blues was when launched in the 70s.

Junior Blues Do Europe: Meanwhile, City’s Academy recently sent two sides into Europe for some pre-season match practice. A team comprising the Under 18s side (with several U17 players) played in a four-match U19 tournament in Stuttgart, Germany. City won one, drew two and lost to Hertha Berlin. The U15s took part in the International Swiss Tournament in Bad Regaz, for the fourth time. City have never failed to reach the semi-final in Switzerland, and this year they remained unbeaten through the demanding schedule of five group games and the semi-final, where they beat FC Basle 1-0. Sadly, however, they lost 2-0 to Anderlecht in the final, but the Academy coaching staff were delighted by the team’s encouraging performance and the impeccable behaviour of the players in both squads.

Reserves on Top: Danny Sturridge and Antoine Sibierski scored the first half goals that gave City’s Pontin’s reserve side the perfect start to the season with a 2-0 victory over Wrexham at the Regional Athletics Arena. The Blues fielded a strong side giving Nicky Weaver, Nedum Onuoha and Antoine Sibierski all a last chance to gain some vital match fitness ahead of Sunday’s Premiership opener away at Chelsea. Frank Bunn, who took the team tonight instead of the usual Pontin’s reserve boss, Gregor Rioch, said afterwards: “It was quite a difficult game. They made it hard for us, got behind the ball well, and it took us a while to break them down. But the class told in the end and the lads took their goals well.”

Distin: Adieu or Au Revoir: Although City have accepted a bid for the dithering former Skipper, Distin seems undecided about going to Middlesbrough and this morning, Portsmouth were renewing their interest in the City defender. Willie Mackay’s protégé (need I say more!) has refused to sign City’s offer for a contract renewal, which at £40,000 per week would make him the highest paid player at the Club. Now with only a year left on his contract, it really is time that Distin made his mind up – although (unbelievably) Stuart Pearce is reportedly happy to keep the player if he can’t (personally, I’d rather he made a decision about where he wanted to play – in terms of club, rather than position, though he also seemed a bit unsure about that on Saturday too!).

City Net Swedish ‘Keeper: Sweden’s first choice goalkeeper, Andreas Isaksson, who played three of Sweden’s games in the World Cup, will take over from David James as City’s number 1! Isaksson, who joins fron Rennes, got his breakthrough back in 1999, then at Swedish team Trelleborg, at the age of 17. He moved to Juventus, but was never really thought of as a first choice, and returned to Djurgaarden and played three seasons for the Stockholm club, before joining Rennes in 2004.

It’s That Man Again: Antoine Sibierski is the latest City player to be linked with a possible move from the Club (yes please!) and guess who his agent is? Mr Mackay! Sibierski has been linked with Everton, and also mentioned as a part-exchange for rumoured target David Dunn.

Good in Parts: Stuart Pearce was pleased with aspects of City’s performance despite their narrow defeat against FC Porto in Saturday’s Thomas Cook Trophy match. Speaking after the match, the Manager said: “There was a marked contrast in each half, we allowed them too much time on the ball but it was a great lesson for us. We put a bit more pressure on in the second half and upped the tempo. From a physical point of view it showed that we needed that 90 minutes, but I was delighted with today’s performance. It could have been better but it brings to the fore certain things we are good at and those we are not so good at.” Pearce also picked out the contributions of two players who were making their first appearances in front of their own fans at the City of Manchester Stadium. “We have some new players bedding in and I thought the new players did very well today. I thought Corradi did well, as did Dabo, who lifted his game a notch and got stronger as the game went on. The squad’s learning about each- other and when they learn more, like how good Bernardo is at flick-ons, they will get stronger as a collective.”

Hamman Chomping at the Bit: Although still nursing a foot injury picked up on the recent far-East tour, Didi Hamann is keen to get his season under way. “The most important thing is to get off to a decent start,” he reckoned, mindful that both Chelsea and Arsenal loom in the first week of the season. “Momentum and confidence are two vital components for any side, and that means getting out of the traps well and getting some points on the board as quickly as possible. It is tough to set any hard and fast ambitions for the season ahead because there are a lot of good teams in the Premiership, three new teams and teams that have changed a number of players. You have to take it game by game. What I do know is that we have a talented bunch of players here, and I am pretty optimistic that we can have a good season and finish in a position in the league where everyone will be satisfied.” And although reluctant to put a figure on it, Did reckoned that City were at least as capable as Newcastle and Spurs!

More Injury Woes: City duo Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland missed the Republic of Ireland’s friendly with Holland in Dublin on Wednesday. The pair sat out the Porto match, with Blues’ boss Stuart Pearce anxious to wrap both players in cotton wool ahead of a tough Premiership opener at champions Chelsea on Sunday: “Richard was definitely struggling for Wednesday with a hamstring strain and Stevie Ireland was doubtful too”. Pearce was being protective of his two key players as “we just have to take care of them because they have muscle strains and you can’t hurry those.”

Micah’s Three Lions Début: Micah Richards made his début for the England Under 21 side in Tuesday’s 2-2 draw against Moldova at Portman Road. The versatile 18-year-old, who has appeared in a holding midfield rôle for City as well as in defence, played the whole match at right-back for Peter Taylor’s team in their European Championship qualifier. Nedum Onuoha had also been called up to the U21 squad but was recalled to play in City’s Pontin’s League match at the Regional Athletics Arena last night.

Trabelsi Man in Waiting: And looks likely to miss this weekend’s Premiership opener as his work permit has yet to be granted. City had hoped to have the Tunisian defender available, as Dunne is injured and Distin undecided.

Sarah Longshaw <news(at)>


Many of you may be aware of the existence of the above at various clubs. These are formed for a variety of reasons but the aim is to provide a democratic and legally constituted framework for a club’s supporters, through which they can, if desired:

  • Represent the views of supporters to the club;
  • Bring the club closer to the community;
  • Own shares in the club, where appropriate;
  • Possibly take some part in the running of the club, often via theelection of supporter directors.

The best known example of a supporters’ trust is Barcelona, where the supporters own the club, but many English and Scottish league clubs also boast supporters’ trusts and these are actively encouraged by the Government, via the Supporters Direct organisation. A few English league clubs are, like Barcelona, also wholly owned by trusts (Brentford, Chesterfield, Rushden & Diamonds, and Stockport). Often these have been set up as a response to financial difficulties but Manchester United fans also set up a trust as a reaction to the potential takeover by Sky. It still exists following the Glazer takeover although it has no connection with the club.

Trusts that do have some connection are mainly found in the lower leagues but Spurs, Arsenal, and Villa, as well as newly-promoted Reading and Watford all have them. Reading is an interesting example as their chairman, John Madejski, has over 97% of the shares so the trust has no hope of being able to influence events via a significant shareholding. However, they have built up such credibility that they now attend part of the regular senior management meeting at the club.

Manchester City is a publicly quoted company on the Ofex market, meaning that its shares can be easily bought (and sold) and many fans, me included, have done so. This entitles you to attend and vote at the AGM and receive copies of the annual report and accounts. There are currently around 55 million shares in circulation and they can be bought for 24p each at today’s price. Any shareholding over 3% has to be declared to the Stock Exchange and shown in the accounts. This means that we know who owns large shareholdings in the club.

The main blocks of shares are held by four groups. John Wardle and David Makin are the major shareholders with 29.95%, followed by the estate of the late Stephen Boler, with 18.75%. The next two large shareholdings are in the hands of Sky and Francis Lee, with 17% between them. This makes up 65.7% and given that there are no other holdings above 3%, it is therefore likely that the largest group of shares, about a third, are in the hands of a few thousand small shareholders.

Clearly, the more shares you hold, the more of a say you potentially have in the club, particularly once you get a significant stake. However, the concept of a trust, if set up as a sort of co-operative in the recommended way, means that everyone, regardless of their individual shareholding, has the same stake and standing. That is not to say that individual shareholdings are “redistributed” but that they can potentially be combined, in various ways, into one voting block of far greater power than a myriad of little holdings. The trust can also buy shares on its own behalf, with funds contributed by members. The rules for the trust should ensure that membership is open as widely as possible via affordable subscriptions and that the trust is a non-profit making, fully accountable body.

The idea of a Supporters’ Trust at Manchester City has been floated again recently. There is a wide diversity of views about the way our club is being run but I think we all agree that there is less regard for the ordinary supporter these days. This may well be a general trend across the Premiership but we’ve certainly seen it at City. There is less and less support for the Supporters’ Club branches. The AGM is a chore to be got over with as soon as possible. The more money that comes into the game from Sky and other corporate sources (hospitality and sponsorship) the less important we individual fans seem to be both financially and as a voice. A Supporters’ Trust is one way to address this.

The Club has been approached and their response has been resoundingly non-committal so far. This is not helpful but is certainly not a show-stopper. In fact this response says to me that we need this more than ever, rather than the increasingly sanitised communication channels we currently have (Points of Blue and the club-provided spin in the Manchester Evening News) plus the blanket assurances about the finances that never seem to be borne out in reality. When Don Price starts to get cynical and disillusioned then it’s time to worry. My own concerns started when I experienced the AGM and realised that the club was not prepared to engage with its supporters and shareholders in any meaningful way.

Please note that this is not intended to be a single-issue pressure group (like Stand Up Sit Down) or breakaway unit (like FC United). We are not going to solve the football-wide problems of diving, the increasing influence of television or an unequal financial playing field. Ideally we would like to work with the board and management in order to ensure that the fans that go to Sunderland or Reading on a Tuesday night are seen as more important to the club than the people who pay their Sky Sports subscription but have no interest in Manchester City (or any other club for that matter).

If anyone is interested in further reading then please refer to the excellent Supporters’ Direct website ( If you are interested in potentially participating in a Manchester City trust then please e-mail Ollie, details below. The more people who take part, the more worthwhile it will be. If you care about the future of your club (as we all do) then do something.

Ollie Goddard <mcfcsupporters(at)>


Presuming SD packs up his gas-mask and ships out to Boro by the time this goes out and that SP hasn’t reacted with lightning speed to sign JP Sorin, who should we get in to give ourselves some cover and experience at the back?

Perhaps Jacek Bak? The Poland captain performed well in a lacklustre side at the World Cup and, I believe, is now a free agent…

Matt Thomas <Matthew.Thomas(at)>


Last Saturday. It was rubbish.

Barton and his free kicks and corners – do me a favour. He is toss. He should’ve left as what we have now done is to bow to his self-professed god-like self importance. It is clear he is not good enough to warrant the salary we have given him. So now we have a jumped-up child, earning disgraceful amounts of our club’s money, and not putting the effort in. More money does not mean more effort/skill. It means more sulking in three years when the current deal is up. Shocking, frustrating and disrespectful.

If anyone tells me he is worth it then the displays of last season will justify my argument convincingly. I will not need to express how bad he was in the friendly on Saturday. I will not either comment on the actual ‘playing’ of football in that game. His ‘dead-ball work’ was enough to irritate me into writing this. Plus points for me, were one. Corradi – strong, classy and won absolutely everything in the air. Someone (and this comes from a ‘rather thin on top fellow’) should tell Sibierski that hair doth matter. Grow some Mr Smart Header.

On Saturday, I met a man who’s skills would be utilised well at City today. Malcolm Allison. My brother Ben and I were in the car leaving – and there he was, old and frail but with that unmistakable face. Window down – “Hi Mal, nice to see you”. Friendly wave from old fur coat and no fedoras. And he signed our programme for us. Star.

Chelsea prediction. 1-1. Enjoy the season folks. It will be better than you think…

Joel Perry <j.perry(at)>


Regarding Ian Richardson’s praise of Moonchester against Porto, I would like to add that I, Moonbeam was actually watching the match after we’d left the Family Stand at half time and although I could have joined him in the stands, someone had to let Moonchester know the final score.

He may be the professional he is but he can never tell you the score at the final whistle!

Hee hee.

P.S. I would also like to remind the club that I exist as well – I am not on the new LIVE4CITY poster and I am sulking!



I wish you luck in your aim to get more youngsters and families to watch City games. However, if my wife’s experiences are anything to go by, staff will have to be better trained and a better system should be put in place. My niece, Zoe, received the details of ‘Live4City’ on Tuesday 7 August. On Wednesday 8 August, my wife applied for the tickets for the game against FC Porto. After getting through quite quickly on the phone, the lady said she would phone my wife back with confirmation and access card details.

Unfortunately, she never did, and my wife phoned 15 times on the Wednesday and Thursday before she finally got through. She arranged to pick up the tickets and cards at lunchtime on the following Friday at window number 10.

When she arrived, window number 10 was shut. She went to another queue and waiting for about half an hour before knocking on the door. When she explained what she was there for, the gentleman told her to come back on Saturday between 9am and 10am. After a long discussion, in which my wife repeatedly explained that she had already arranged to pick them up that day, the gentleman went to get them. When he came back, he didn’t have the access card for my niece. She was told again that she didn’t need an access card but they would put one in the post for future matches.

On the day of the match, I feared the worst and was proved correct. Zoe could not get in without an access card. They had to see a supervisor, who then got in touch with someone else. Fortunately, common sense prevailed and they were swiped in through another entrance.

Altogether, not a pleasant experience but, unfortunately, experiences like this are all to common at City and is little wonder why people give up trying.

After saying that, I hope you can turn things round in terms of fan satisfaction.

All the best for the future and kind regards,

Donald Price <cathdon.price(at)>


Joel wanted some ammunition about Middlesbrough so here goes.

I have the misfortune to have some relatives in Middlesbrough. They are the most fickle football fans in the country.

Not since 1974 when United got relegated to Division 2 have I seen such a mass drop off in support when a team are not doing well as the Middlesbrough ‘fans’. Oh but they’re all there claiming that they always were when things are looking up.

They shout ‘Boro’ but really, they should be shouting ‘Boring’, which is what Middlesbrough have always been. Middlesbrough. It’s like Liverpool but with jobs.

I have a short list of pet hate football teams. Top of the list is so obvious that I won’t name them.

Second is Tottenham. I went to both finals in 1981 and the hurt is still there.

Third is Luton and for those unfortunate souls who, like me, sat there and watched Raddy Antic, or whatever he was called, half volley into the bottom corner of the net at the North Stand end to relegate us for the first time sine the early sixties, then you’ll understand that one.

Finally, there’s Midlesbrough. A poor excuse for a town, a poor excuse for a football team, and an even poorer excuse for a set of ‘fans’. They have a new stadium but, you can re-spray a Lada and put in electric windows and Sat Nav but at the end of the day, it’s still a Lada.

I was born in the centre of Manchester and count myself as a ‘True Mancunian’. I can’t say that I go round ‘boasting’ about it. I’m just me. But if I came from Middlesbrough, I would definitely not go round telling everybody. I’d keep it a secret.

John Nisbet <nisbet1957(at)>


I have a spare ticket in the City end for Sunday. Can meet outside the ground or in pub near Parsons Green before match. Contact Chris on 07789 435999.

Thank you, Chris Pilkington <chris(at)>


I have 2 Reading away tickets for sale. They are £32 each. Ring me on 07944 775022.

Thanks, Andrew Jackson <ajackson32(at)>

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Newsletter #1251