It’s kinda cute and highly amusing watching City fans suddenly pretend to be all radicalised about the prices Arsenal are charging for this Sundays match. Us reds and fans of other bona-fide big clubs like Tottenham and Liverpool are watching City fans in the same manner that a bloke in his thirties would look at a suddenly politicised sixteen year old who’s begining to realise that the world isn’t a very fair place. The followers of Manchester City making a stand on a moral or principle of conscience does not correspond or sit easily with any of their behaviour historically. Are these are the same City fans who were gleefully manipulated by the Daily Mirror for the ill fated Forward With Franny campaign in 1993? In 2008, they enthusiatically welcomed the fugitive and deposed Thai prime minister and at the time, alleged human rights abuser and now convicted crminal, Doctor Thaksin Shinawatra. If City fans had a history of millitancy in the way of, for example, West Ham fans whom succesfully fought the imposition of a bond in the 1990s or the way Liverpool fought to destroy the blatantly obvious cover up over Hillsborough and the way United fans revolted in 1998 against the BSkyB bid (succesfully) and the Glazers in 2005 (not so), I’d have more respect. The fact is that the club and its fans have willingly dropped their drawers when owners came along throwing money around like confetti without any thought of principle, particularly during the Thaksin Shinawatra regime that makes the boycott/protest risible.
Thaksin Shinawatra and Sir Alex Ferguson in the pre season of 2001
In March 2011, there were nearly 7,000 empty seats for City’s home FA Cup quarter final match against Reading. Then, King of the Kippax editor and the blue the press go to, Dave Wallace said on that occasion that church services affected the attendance. This week, we had Kevin Parker, the general secretary of the Manchester City Supporters club no less, on Radio 5 saying that the game was too close to post christmas. Silly me here was thinking it was a protest gallantly organised by disgruntled City fans but no. The inference was that the pagan celebrations that the Anglo Saxon Chrsitian world has just indulged in has rendered the travelling platoon of City fans potless. It wasn’t then a protest about the £62.00 Arsenal are charging. I suppose that now explains why City had nearly 11,000 empty seats for the home leg of the League Cup semi final in January 2012 against Liverpool. The fact is that City failed to sell out their allocation for Premier League matches at Anfield and Ewood Park in April 2011 and this was when they were in contention, ultimately succesful, for a place in the following seasons Champions League. Were they organised boycotts too? What about Arsenal fans who were charged £51.00 for the game at the Abu Dhabi stadium in September just passed? Did they boycott? City sold all their allocation for the match at Stamford Bridge in November and the price of those tickets was £59.00, does the extra £3.00 that Arsenal are charging really make all the difference? It can’t be distance or travel expense as Ashburton Grove is an easier place get to from Manchester than Chelsea. The trade unionist in me would like to brush rivalry aside in this case, no matter how nasty it is, if it wasn’t for the fact that City are trying to masquerade the failure to sell out an away allocation at Arsenal as some kind of principled boycott. What has been conveniently forgotten in this well publicised protest/boycott is that there has been the 2,000 (approx) tickets that have been sold to travelling blues. Have the City fans who’ve bought them tickets now going to be viewed as pariahs by their fellow millitant take no shit blues. This reminds me a little bit of that great show of unity City players showed Wayne Bridge after the John Terry affair came into the public domain in February 2010. Then, City just happened to have a match at Stamford Bridge immediately in the aftermath of the revelations. City players in a show of solidarity that would’ve made Derek Robinson weep and looking like a secretive card school clique had the legend, team Bridge emblazoned on their undershirts. Not all of them mind, about half the team had it which made me wonder where the other half stood on this.