Lampard deal angers New York fans


Published: Thursday 1st January 2015 by The News Editor

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Manchester City’s deal to keep Frank Lampard until the end of the season has been condemned by supporters of New York City FC, their sister club in Major League Soccer who must now wait until mid-season to see their marquee signing.

Lampard has been the face of New York’s marketing push alongside former Barcelona striker David Villa ahead of their inaugural campaign in MLS, but the former England midfielder will be absent when the new franchise open against fellow new boys Orlando on March 8 after City confirmed he will remain in Manchester until the end of the English season.

While the deal has been anticipated for some time given Lampard’s impact at City and Yaya Toure’s imminent departure to the African Nations Cup, the announcement – which came hours before his loan deal was due to end – was quickly denounced by New York supporters’ group The Third Rail.

“On behalf of the Third Rail, we would like to publicly denounce City Football Group’s and Frank Lampard’s decision to extend his loan to Manchester City until the end of the Premier League season,” a statement on the group’s website said.

“Many fans, including our members, decided to support the team, committed to season tickets, and bought merchandise under the impression that Frank Lampard would be playing for New York City Football Club, not Manchester City. Many of those fans are rightly outraged by this decision, and we support any course of action they take to voice their discontent over this decision.

“Our support for our ownership group has been unwavering until now, but this we cannot support. We reject out of hand any suggestion that NYCFC is in any way secondary to Manchester City FC, regardless of the source, and are disappointed that City Football Group would give such an appearance.

“The Third Rail will forever act as a voice for the fans of New York City Football Club.”

New York City are jointly owned by Manchester City’s parent company City Football Group and Major League Baseball franchise the New York Yankees, and Lampard’s move had already been criticised by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger as a means of bypassing Financial Fair Play rules to sign the 36-year-old on the cheap.

The former Chelsea star has proven his worth to City by scoring six goals in 17 appearances for the club, although he has only started three Premier League games.

The deal can be seen as a snub for MLS, and has echoes of David Beckham’s numerous moves back to Europe on short-term deals while playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Alexi Lalas, the man who signed Beckham for the Galaxy, made clear where he felt the balance of power lay as he tweeted “The Mothership has spoken. #NYCFC” in response to the announcement.

Lalas also retweeted The Third Rail statement, and an old tweet from New York City, sent in September, advertising season tickets on the back of Lampard’s signing.

Former New England Revolution coach Steve Nicol said on ESPN the deal was a “disaster” for MLS due to the message it will send to fans.

“Disaster, absolute disaster,” he said. “It’s a disaster for that new franchise, a disaster for MLS. I can’t wait to hear from (MLS commissioner) Don Garber.”

In a short statement on the MLS website, Garber’s deputy commissioner Mark Abbott said: “Frank Lampard’s performance at Manchester City reaffirms that he is one of the world’s elite midfielders and we look forward to him joining NYCFC during the 2015 season.”

Published: Thursday 1st January 2015 by The News Editor

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