Sunday, May 13, 2012

Manchester divided: United and City fans on football's power shift

 Edited from The Observer

 With City favourites to claim the Premier League title, the city's football fans are adapting to a world turned upside down

There is a football sage in Manchester, Adam Brown: a former United fan but now board member of FC United of Manchester, the non-league club that emerged from dissent against the commercialisation of the game in general and at the Glazer takeover of United in particular.

Brown, who has not watched United since 2005, now runs an independent social research co-operative called Substance, but in 2002, for Manchester Metropolitan University, compiled the only statistical data on each team's geographical base, finding that in 2001, United fans came mostly from the north and west of the city, and from Salford, City's from the east and south.

More season tickets at Old Trafford were sold to fans with Manchester postcodes than at Maine Road, but a higher proportion of those at City were locals. Gone were the days, says Brown, when fans used to watch both teams on alternate Saturdays. But "there are dichotomies within both clubs. United fans love the glory, but even in the late 90s a backlash against BSkyB's attempt to buy United led to a reassertion of local club identity.

Ed Vulliamy