Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium sounds classier than the Sports Direct Arena, has the fifth largest capacity in the Premier League but they will want to grow their fan base, both nationally and internationally, to help them expand and go on to become more successful.
City has just over 1 million fans on Facebook whereas rival Man Utd has over 20 million. You could say this doesn’t mean anything but in my opinion it is hugely significant. At the moment Manchester City are still a small club in terms of global fan base mainly because they have been largely unsuccessful in the Premier League and FA Cup for a long time until now. It’s obvious that Man City just doesn’t have the same amount of foreign support as Manchester United. Last year United had revenues double that of Manchester City and a large amount of that was due to the huge amount of merchandise sold in continents such as Asia. At present City aren’t real players in the foreign merchandise market mainly due to the fact they haven’t been a major force in the Premier League, a competition that is beamed around the world every weekend. This limits their revenue numbers and although Sheikh Mansour seems to have an incomprehensible amount of money, it could hit them hard when it comes to the financial fair play rules imposed by UEFA.
Another thing is that Manchester City doesn’t have a large amount of fans outside Manchester and the North West of England. Or outside of the Stockport area, Man United fans would tell you. I live just west of London and have never seen someone wearing a Manchester City shirt except when they have been playing at the nearby Wembley. You always see plenty of Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea shirts. Even though Chelsea is local, they did seem to become a lot more popular circa 2005.
There is often an obsession in England about supporting your local team, but the truth is that many people don’t. Children pick a team to support when they are young, mainly due to their peers at school. Conversations about football, and dare I say banter, start at a very young age at school. When you’re young, you normally support who your friends support and who are doing well. If Man City can start a ‘dynasty’ by winning the Premier League this year, then in the future children are going to grow up seeing Man City doing well, so naturally more people will start to support them. This means that we will see more Man City shirts all around the country if they replicate United’s success in the Premier League era. Their fan base will grow rapidly which will only do positive things for them as a club.
More success will lead to more fans worldwide thanks to the exposure of the Premier League around the world. Again Man City will hope that over the next 20 years they will be as popular and recognised all over, not only the UK but around the world. This will help them financially but if City can become as popular as Man United worldwide, together with the owner’s deep pockets, they could well be an unstoppable force in the future.