The Manchester City Project: What Does It Mean?

True BlueCorrespondent IFebruary 4, 2009

There has been much comment and fevered speculation about the intentions of Manchester City's latest owners over the past few months.

The initial feeding frenzy in the press has fallen away and been replaced by, well, by nothing really.

It seems that, the Kaka story aside, the press are running on empty.

But, why are we hearing about the Manchester City "Project?"

Players are signing up to this and talk about the project when explaining the reasons for coming to the club, but they go no further.

The idea of an unspecified project is rather frustrating to all City fans as we deserve to know the details as well, don't we?

And why aren't players being pressed on the issue of "the project?" Are newspaper and TV reporters simply accepting that, as the world's richest club there is bound to be "a project?"

As there seems little or no desire on behalf of the press to investigate and the club seems reluctant to discuss the ideas that they have in any detail, no matter how thin, it falls upon me to suggest what "The Project" may entail.

1. The City of Manchester Stadium

There seems to be a logical link between City and the old casino site. There has been talk that the new owners want to develop that parcel of land.

There has also been talk about increasing the capacity of COMS to meet the future needs of the world's greatest club!

Although feasible, they first have to buy out the Councils' interest in COMS and that might be costly.

So, as it stands, the project is likely to hinge on Manchester City Councils' desire to keep hold of COMS, perhaps in this economic downturn, money will most definitely talk.

Although I can understand the need for quiet negotiations, it would be nice if they made the vision more obvious to the fans.

2. The Squad

Although there have been no public statements as clear as this, it seems that club wants to and WILL recruit a number of world class players this summer.

They have tried to do that with Kaka, and although they failed, they will have learned some harsh lessons about dealing with other clubs. What happened with Kaka may well have an impact in summer as well.

The dream scenario of 22 world class players is not beyond the financial capacity of the owners, perhaps it's beyond the capacity of the club at present.

3. The Academy

City's academy is very well thought of and has a determined and talented leader in Jim Cassell.

The owners are more or less guaranteed to invest in the academy, and it seems that it forms the central plank of the plans beyond the big ticket purchases of the first few years.

What isn't clear is whether they export the academy or have tie ins with other clubs.

An indication of that may be found in the meeting with PSG recently.

4. The Club Infrastructure

The world's biggest and most successful club will need more people on the phone at the ticket office and a better shop.

The museum needs to be developed and expanded to make more of the club's long history as that will help elsewhere as well.

There has been improvements in many ways over the last 18 months but more needs to be done in terms of capacity and professionalism.

There are plans already in place to develop the training facilities at Carrington and they seem to mean business in every aspect. Quality and capacity can live side by side if money is spent.

5. The Manager

It is now as clear as can be that Mark Hughes is the man that they are backing to bring success to the club.

However, there are indications that in order to get the big players, we need a big-name manager.

If they are going for anyone, I would like to see Capello replace Hughes.

6. The Brand

Aston Martins in City livery.

City Cola

City Petrol Stations

City Crisps

These are all easy enough to produce, you pay for the packaging and the manufacture and there you go.

But that's not what we're talking about here.

The City Brand, its value, and its earning potential will only become global when the big players turn up and we start to win things.

I'm not a branding/marketing expert, but thankfully, City has one in the form of Gary Cook. He has a very clear idea of what he wants and what the fans can expect.

All it takes is a more open dialogue with the fans for them to feel included in the process.

So all in all, the project means that the owners are going to have to invest huge amounts of money to create the dream scenario.

I estimate that all of the above things could end up costing in excess of £500m, and it appears that the owners are ready to spend.

Let's hope some of that money is spent on a vision document aimed at fans as well as players and sponsors.

One thing that the club could do now, and at no cost at all, is to stop talking about "the project" and start talking about the club.

Why? Because at present, the Project doesn't include the fans and the club does.





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