City fans defend low Etihad crowd


Published: Wednesday 1st October 2014 by The News Editor

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Manchester City supporters have hit back at criticism from former United players Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand over the lack of atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium.

The high-profile pair expressed forthright opinions about the crowd as City played out an unconvincing 1-1 draw with Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The attendance for the game was just 37,509, around 10,000 short of the ground’s current capacity, which is being increased to 54,000 over the next year and eventually to 62,000.

The atmosphere was subdued and Scholes, in his role as a pundit for ITV Sport, picked up on this, comparing the occasion unfavourably to equivalent nights at other English clubs.

He said City’s European nights did not have a “special feeling” while Ferdinand, who is now at QPR, used his Twitter feed to question why the club need to expand their stadium.

Andy Savage, who runs the website, felt these were cheap shots from wealthy footballers.

Savage, 43, of Hyde, said: “I took Rio Ferdinand to task on Twitter. He was taking the mickey out of the empty seats at the Etihad last night.

“He is living in his own bubble there. Some people are living hand to mouth and don’t know where the next penny is coming from, and he’s criticising them for not filling the stadium when the tickets are £35-plus.

“He was an absolute disgrace on Twitter, as was Scholes on ITV. They are multi-millionaires. They don’t give the man on the street a second thought, how much it is costing people.

“The cost of living is going up, so many people are out of work. Football is not everyone’s priority, like it used to be. People just can’t afford, over the course of the month, to pay for tickets three, four or five times.

“I took Ferdinand to task, and not because he is an ex-United player. He’s got an autobiography coming out. I’m sure he’s not giving that away. I’m sure he’s not joined QPR for the love it. He’ll be getting a substantial salary.

“Perhaps it will hit home next year if QPR have to put their prices up and they won’t be able to fill their stadium. It really wound me up last night.”

David Mooney, who is a producer and host of the popular Blue Moon fans podcast, accepted that the atmosphere was underwhelming but felt Scholes’ criticism was unfair.

Mooney, 26, of Manchester, said: “I think it was very flat and I can see what they are getting at.

“But this debate is coming from the wrong side of the fence. We have got multi-millionaires talking about empty seats in stands when ticket proces are £40 and £50.

“You can understand people who have paid for their season ticket saying this is one of the games they are going to miss to make it affordable for the year.

“It strikes me as a crass thing for people who have got plenty of millions in the bank to be able to do whatever they like to be dictating to other people what they should be doing.”

After the game, City manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to blame the atmosphere for his side’s below-par display, which left them with just one point from their opening two Group E games.

Richard Burns, who contributes to the Typical City blog and the Blue Moon podcast, feels performances and atmosphere in the Champions League are perhaps feeding each other negatively.

Burns, 26, of Denton, said: “Scholes said the atmosphere isn’t as good as other English clubs on European nights. I think there is a point in that.

“As long as City have been in the Champions League the atmosphere has been a little underwhelming, probably not helped by performances. One perhaps feeds the other.

“Ferdinand’s comments about empty seats – it is disappointing that someone should misjudge the situation like that. I think there is a point of how expensive football is.

“To cram in extra games in midweek for people who go all the other league and cup games is not particularly easy to do.”

Published: Wednesday 1st October 2014 by The News Editor

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