Manchester City and the Global Pandemic

Manchester City face all kinds of pressures arising from the coronavirus global pandemic, but the focus is rightly upon those suffering and at risk.

Even the most morbid Hollywood movie would have failed to predict the impact upon everyday life of the global pandemic. Restrictions on goods and services, self isolation, social distancing, sedentary lifestyles and poor mental health are all features the world over as the ordinary-ness of daily fear kicks in.

For Manchester City, a worldwide sporting brand, how to cope in the face of such pressures, and most importantly how to make a positive contribution must have vexed the greatest of minds at the club.

A football club without football presents as something of an enigma, yet in grappling with this there is an opportunity to address what is truly the heart of the club. The fans.

So, it is not a surprise that City were the first Premier League club to give away facilities to the National Health Service, much as they had done in the aftermath of the terrorist bombing of the Ariana Grande concert at the Arena. The bricks and mortar of the club may be symbolic, but they are not the heart of the club.

As fans we know this with many having followed the journey from Hyde Road to Maine Road and in 2003 to the City of Manchester Stadium.

City are also to be applauded though for the way in which the Club have sought to address the physical and mental health of the fans. The ongoing provision of online content through the official channels is  engaging and motivating fans, through distraction techniques if nothing else.

Sure there are more important things than football going on in the world at the moment, but having moments to laugh and share is an important part of helping people to cope with the solitary impacts of the pandemic.

Currently many of the players are scattered across the globe, with their families where possible, training in isolation and trying to keep up their physical conditioning.

Any of us in work can appreciate how the current level of disruption is difficult, but for elite athletes on short term contracts with the very real prospect of missing out on their ‘peak’ condition then the fear must be palpable.

Hopefully in the weeks ahead the fans can help to motivate and engage with the players. Many players are returning to social media and a few appear to be doing so without the watchful eye of the club social media policy, meaning some of those fan interactions have the potential to be real.

The reality for us all is that it is the fans who are the life blood of the club. This is one of those times when the club needs to do everything it can for the fans. People remember the positive and negative experiences in a crisis and City have an opportunity to do even more and to push on further impact upon the lives of the fans.

City should be the type of company who lead the way in their response. So rather than waiting for the Premier League and others to act decisively, City should get out in front and make some promises. City can and should be doing more.

Its time for City to pause collection on direct debits for season card holders and even to refund people who have paid in full. Time to offer a public guarantee for any fan struggling to afford tickets in the current economic uncertainty. Time to reassure fans with discounts for renewals and promises that loyalty will be rewarded.

In short, it is time for City to support the fans in a way which will make a difference for many struggling fans. The alternative is that many fans will make choices when the world returns to a new normal and football could well miss out.

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