Saturday, 5 March 2011

Kicking a Leather Sphere around a Green Field

If there is one thing which Manchester is noted for internationally at the moment it is football. Regardless of country or continent, if you mention Manchester the reaction is 'Ah yes, Manchester United!'. Of course Manchester also possesses arguably the richest club in the World in Manchester City, but I'm not going to get drawn into the customary United / City arguments (I'll just say that for historical reasons I'm a Newcastle fan and move on).

Under the circumstances it's not surprising that football features regularly in the political and economic life of this city, and recent events provide plenty of examples. City moved centre stage last week, with the approval of a massive plan to develop sports facilities in East Manchester see here. Greens are sometimes accused of being against all developments - on the contrary, my initial reaction is that this is a welcome development in a part of the city which has suffered disproportionately; it is much better than the supercasino which Manchester Council were trying to get previously.

Manchester United has its own political dimension. Following the takeover of the Glazers, many Man U fans sport green and gold scarves (a colour scheme which I find quite fetching) rather than the conventional red; those of a more radical bent formed a breakaway club with the prosaic name of FC United. Whilst not yet in a position to challenge the senior divisions of English football, they have had their moments. Their rebellious origin and democratic approach appeals to me; If I were to support any local team it would be 'FC'. Manchester City Council seem less supportive; a plan for a stadium on derelict land in Newton Heath was dumped last week because the council has refused financial help to get it off the ground - see FC United's take on it here

Now, from this last fact one might assume that the City Council weren't interested in football. Not quite - despite the cuts imposed by the ConDem Government, and passed on to the people of Manchester by the council - they are paying £7 million to get the national museum of football into the Urbis building. Now I think that Preston was an entirely appropriate venue for the museum, and I was one of those campaigning for Urbis original cultural role to be retained, but if we are to have the National Football Museum here, surely we should be looking at the two super-rich Manchester clubs to be funding it?

No comments: