“We are a community club” – Show us that you mean it, Soriano

Ferran Soriano proved himself again to be a master orator when talking at the Supporters Club Annual Dinner last week (read the full speech here). City’s Catalan CEO is known for his eloquent speeches, and his latest is targetted directly at Manchester City’s fans. In this, he makes many references to the club’s history and to its culture.

It’s easy to get misty-eyed reading it, but it’s important to stop and think for a second. His words are easy on the ears, but they do not correlate with what’s going on off-the-pitch right now. I’m not as taken in as others will be by the speech. Much of it is “CEO-speak”: persuasive and appealing language intended to win-over an audience. Just look at the first line:

“Manchester City is not a consumer product – it’s something much more important.”

This is certainly true for us, the supporters, but is that honestly the case for you, Ferran? Every year, season ticket prices go up. Every year, general sale prices go up. Every year, food and drink prices at the Etihad go up. Every year, merchandise prices go up. Every year, you ask more from a fan base that, according to past surveys, is among the poorest in Britain.

This may not be a problem in future when City, or the City Football Group if you prefer, wins the hearts and minds of the world, leading to a revolving door of fanatical tourists to fill seats – but these masses do not yet exist, and Manchester City is still heavily reliant on its domestic, working class fan base.

Soriano went on to tug at the heartstrings of the 400 supporters at the dinner, referencing St. Mark’s and the fans who went to Macclesfield in the dark old days.

“We are a community club. We are club of the community of Manchester.”

This has long been an image associated with Manchester City, much like Everton in Liverpool. The (in our case, formerly) poorer neighbours who boast strong community support, particularly among the working class, something the club values highly.

Here’s the problem, Ferran – the local fans you value so highly are being asked to pay more and more each year. The recent response to ticket prices to PSG has been overwhelmingly negative with thousands of shares over social media supporting not just our letter, but the statements made by the 1894 Group and the articles on Typical City. People are tired of being treated like bottomless wallets.

If you care about your amazing local support, Mr. Soriano, then show it. Talk is cheap when you’re squeezing more and more out of the locals each year. A close friend of mine, in his early 20s and in full-time employment, already can’t afford to go to any cup games and fears another season ticket hike will price him out completely. Every price hike means another batch of local fans watching their beloved Blues in the pub or at home with the kids.

If you aren’t going to listen to us about ticket prices for the PSG game, then show you mean what you say – freeze season ticket prices like most Premier League clubs appear to be doing in response to the massive TV revenues about to fill Premier League coffers even more. Or better yet, reduce them! Everton have, and they’re a community club, a club for the people, as you claim Manchester City are. They’ve backed it up, despite having no apparent need to after selling a record number of season tickets last year.

So if you mean what you say, if Manchester City is “a club of the community of Manchester”, give us a clear sign that you mean it.

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