Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Manchester City face long haul to win over New York citizens

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning looks downfield for James Milner
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning looks downfield for James Milner

There is an abundance of evidence already that Manchester City's new little brother club in New York City – "NYCFC", as they are already being called here – will be a mini-City in every way, using the access to the American market place to drive up the kind of awareness that Manchester United command and the Abu Dhabi-owned side do not. The marketing materials for the new club are identikit Manchester City. There was sky blue everywhere at the official launch of the club in east Harlem.

 

But the Queens district where the new club will be located is quite evidently going to need more persuading than the citizens of east Manchester did when the stadium built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games became a ready-made home for City.

The New York Times' substantial coverage of the awarding of a 20th MLS franchise to City and the New York Yankees was dominated by the story of what the paper described as "inserting a soccer stadium into the green lungs of Queens County". Its headline – "A Team Is Born, but Not All Cheer" – captured the mood.

City's chief executive Ferran Soriano insisted the club were not mindless colonisers. "In England we run a football club which takes its place in the community very seriously. It embraces its community, listens to its community and that will be exactly the same approach we would aim to take over here. We will listen to people. This is not a marketing trick, this is about soccer. It begins and ends with playing good soccer and we will do our best to be the best."

But there is a widely held view here that City secured their last-minute partnership with the Yankees last week to help build bridges with a community antagonised by the idea of an Abu Dhabi Sheikh buying up their land. "No, that's absolutely not the case," the Yankees president, Randy Levine, said. But for all such denials, a long job may lie ahead, seeking to win Queens' hearts and minds.