City to expand Eastlands capacity to 60,000?

According to The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor, the club have been looking at expanding the capacity of Eastlands to 60,000 with a new training ground alongside the stadium. There would also be development of the surrounding land to create a sports village. The article claims the plans are at an early stage and have yet to be discussed with Manchester City Council.

This news may not be as startling as it initially sounds. When ADUG took over the club there was initial speculation they may look at developing the ground and surrounding area. A good offer to the Council, with whom City have always enjoyed a decent relationship, is unlikely to be turned down. Afterall it’s not like they could rent a 48,000 seat stadium to anyone else. Giving a cash injection to the Council that could be reinvested on other services would show them as having managed this particular legacy of the Commonwealth Games very well.

Geographically there is comfortably room for developing the ground on three sides with just the South Stand being close to Ashton New Road. The other parts of the article regarding the training ground and sports village make less sense. There is a decent amount of space around the City of  Manchester Stadium, but I’m not sure there’s enough for the multiple training pitches and other facilities that would be needed to surpass what we currently have at Carrington. The benefits are unclear especially given the recent overhaul of facilities there and the fact it’s more accessible on a daily basis for our mostly Cheshire based players and staff.

The sports village has long been under way with the velodrome, athletics track and squash centre. These would seem to be best left to the Council to develop as part of the overall regeneration of East Manchester. There seems little logic in City getting involved with other sports.

With regard to filling a 60,000 capacity stadium, I believe this is attainable if we were to be challenging for the Premier League and Champions League on a regular basis. Arsenal are filling the 60,000 Emirates stadium having moved up from 38,000 Highbury and many of their season tickets are priced over £1000. I doubt sufficient football supporters in the North would pay these ‘London prices’ but in terms of bums on seats there’s no shortage of people interested in attending top quality football. Manchester has a good catchment area in Cheshire (home to many City fans already) and the ever expanding Warrington. The location of Eastlands is more accessible for people East of Manchester than Maine Road, and when the tram line is finally built it will be easier to access from Piccadilly Station.

Such major changes and blatant seeking of new fans may not play well with all of our traditional supporters. It’s true that we would be losing touch with some of our roots despite the continued investment in City In The Community, etc. The shared experiences many of us have of Maine Road and life outside the top flight would seem a world away. One fears for Colin Shindler‘s mental health given the trauma he’s already been through with ‘this Abu Dhabi lot’.

Personally I feel incredibly lucky to be watching some of the world’s finest players each week, and if more City fans are able to share that with me then I’m all for it. In fact I’d say if we really are to be challenging for the European Cup on a regular basis, then I’d be looking to add more than 12,000 to the current stadium. I’d go for a 65,000 capacity at least!

City linked with ‘new Robinho’ Pernao

Tabloid transfer talk this morning claims City are set to sign Rafael de Souza Rodolfo, otherwise known as Pernao, otherwise known as the ‘new Robinho’. The sixteen year old Brazilian striker is currently with Fluminese, though he has yet to feature in their first team. The Mirror claim he is rated at £3 million.

The Mirror:

City moved quickly to invite the youngster to Manchester last week and expect to complete the deal shortly, which will include further add-ons, following discussions with his club and family.

Pernao was able to meet and train with his idol Robinho and wants to follow the same route to Manchester as his friends, the Da Silva twins who have already made the first team at rivals United.

The youngster’s desire to join Robinho has enabled us to move ahead of Chelsea who are also said to be interested. This is another reminder of why having Robinho is so good for City in terms of our profile. He may not track back and tackle much, but he remains our biggest galactico and is a posterboy for the Brazilian national side around the world. In terms of raising our global profile, which is a stated aim of Garry Cook and Khaldoon Al Mubarak, this is huge. Other players also want to play alongside such a talent. It’s good for their egos and increases the idea they’re joining one of the biggest clubs. To have sold him this Summer after just one season, which was speculated on by some, would have diminished us in the eyes of the football world and made other potential signings more hesitant about joining our ‘project’.

Until recently continental clubs used to lead the way with plucking South American prospects, think Kaka at Milan or Ronaldo at PSV. Nowadays the greater finance and profile of the Premier League along with a steady increase in the number of established Central and South American players plying their trade over here is enabling English clubs to have greater access to this fertile recruiting ground.

Manchester United have shown the way with the Da Silva twins. However no-one can deny the ethical questions of these practices which were none to subtly put by the Brazilian legend Carlos Alberto recently when he accused United of “raping” Brazilian football in their bid for 17 year old Dodo. The recruiting of young players has always been a murky world, look what happened to City schoolboy international Ryan Giggs. It’s now a global murky world. Uefa and Fifa may well tighten the rules one day, but in the meantime City’s youth and reserve teams could be taking on more of an international look, especially as we set up overseas academies. Hopefully we will only sign genuine talents who are likely to make it, as there are already to many depressing tales of those who don’t.

One thing’s for sure, Pernao is unlikely to be the last ‘new Robinho’ we’re linked with.