So the much-ridiculed and derided CityLive event came around last night, an event I felt like a social pariah for daring to attend. I mean, how dare City put on an event and charge admission whilst not forcing people to go! How dare they! The insatiable need for revenue means we can all expect more events like this, which seems to have offended many, but this is modern football. As a fan you’re perfectly entitled to stay at home and whine about it on message boards instead.
To be fair, I wasn’t sure what to expect myself. There was always a nagging doubt that it would be a disaster, that it was an idea that just wouldn’t work. Thankfully that wasn’t the case.
The event was billed as a sell-out. Or as City put it, “a sell-out to capacity”. This led to further criticisms that City’s initial ambitions had been rather-scaled down, reducing the capacity to 4,000 and being forced to sell cheaper standing tickets to get numbers in, whilst giving away plenty of freebies. The initial blurb seemed to mention 10,000 fans being there, a number that was never mentioned again. Manchester Central holds just under 13,000 standing spectators, but the event last night appeared to be full, with seats to the back. There was an extra area at the entrance for drink and food stands, but that is always there, for any gig. There was space down the sides too, but anyway, the place looked packed to the rafters bar the occasional empty seat, which was good to see. Perhaps everything was squeezed in to give the impression of a full house, including bringing the stage forward. So if City made one mistake above all it was to overestimate the demand for the event, and to perhaps overcharge. £25 is a fair amount for what was on offer, but cheaper tickets would naturally have led to greater sales, and thus charging more may well be something of a false economy. If the primary function of the night was to earn revenue, I think it’s fair to say it wasn’t a resounding success.
Anyway, here are my thoughts on the event itself:
The show was professional. This shouldn’t be a surprise any more, this was not organised by Peter Swales.
Jake Humphrey was a superb host. In addition, being a Norwich City supporter allowed him to compliment City without a bitter edge to his words.
The opening montage and the Bert Trautmann section were very enjoyable – my only gripe is that both sections weren’t long enough – I wanted more. Still, however many times I have watched THAT goal (and it’s over 200 times by now), it was nice to watch it with thousands of fellow City fans.
The interviews with manager and players were ok, nothing more. I expected the advertised “Q & A” with Pellegrini to be somewhat more substantial.
And likewise, the player awards were unspectacular but enjoyable.
The only bit that failed for me was the quiz. It didn’t bore me, and there was entertainment to be had from guessing the answers, but I felt it disrupted the rhythm of the night, as proceedings had been rattling along prior to that.
Jason Manford was excellent. I’d heard some of the stuff before, which was to be expected as I have seen him live four times before, but he didn’t disappoint, and it raised the night onto a higher level by having him there, by adding extra variety to proceedings. I’ve seen hundreds of live comedy gigs but this was unique in that it was football-orientated and playing to a like-minded crowd.
As for Miles Kane, he was fine. It’s all a matter of taste of course, and it was disappointing that Primal Scream pulled out, but his replacement put on an energetic set. It’s just a shame most people left before he came on stage.
I think the players will be impressed at the show that was put on for them. It was nice that for once there was no cynicism, and every player got a cheer, be it Nastastic, Aguero, Sinclair or Kolarov.
Overall, the night was a success. And judging by the survey being sent out to non-attendees, it will be a regular fixture. It appeals to a certain demographic, and clearly isn’t for everyone. But there’s something for everyone at the club nowadays – including some rather nice football.
£4.50 for a plastic bottle of Heineken. Unbelievable.
Come on Sergio, at least learn a bit of English. If Wayne Rooney can manage it, anyone can.
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