Monday, August 28, 2006

'Gay-friendly' initiative announced

One story that came out (pun very much intended) was the announcement that the club had signed up to become part of what is known as the Diversity Champions Scheme. The scheme, run by gay rights group Stonewall is designed primarily for employers to focus on a range of gay-friendly initiatives.

According to Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill:

"The work can range from looking at recruitment processes to what's already going on in the workplace, to developing marketing is mainly about Manchester City wanting to be an exemplary employer."

This prompted some of tabloids today however to unsurprisingly run headlines such as 'Men City' (The Sun) and 'Man on Man City' (The Mirror), whilst it has also been suggested that it could lead to a series of changes such as a pink away kit or YMCA becoming the new song the teams run out to.

A by-product of the initiative will be to try and attract members of the gay community to the club, but this in itself is not a particularly groundbreaking move. The club has always attempted to have strong links to the community - I believe that local schools still benefit from free tickets from the club, whilst when the club were at Maine Road a number of tickets were made available to the University. A recent study also looked at the club when compiling the report 'Football and its communities'

I don't know what the current percentage of City's attendance is actually gay, or whether the initiative will see significant number swapping Canal Street for the City of Manchester Stadium on a Saturday afternoon, but the club could also have one eye on attempting to reach as a wide an audience as possible to ensure future attendances remain at a sustained level. Don't forget that the club has loans on the basis of future attendances, but the average attendances have dropped year on year since moving to the new stadium.

If some of the 'newer' fans who arrived at the time of the stadium move are now beginning to drift away, then the club will have to look at the 'next generation' of supporters, and as a demographic, the gay community in Manchester - with a young-ish age range, above average disposable income and increasing numbers would fit the sort of target market that the clubs marketing advisors would suggest they target.

vote it up!


Anonymous said...

Is this because we put one up the Arse on Saturday evening?

Simon said...

More likely some of the more "robust" members of the City supporting "community" are putting off the families and less extreme fans. Parents today don't necessarily want to expose their children to the (occasional) homophobic chanting that can happen at football grounds in much the same way that parents 20 and 30 years ago didn't want to expose their kids to the monkey chants and what have you that accompanied the racism endemic to the terraces at the time.

Society moves on. The idea that people who are gay are freaks is kind of old hat - clause 28 has been repealed (thank god), there are lots of role models out there who HAPPEN to be gay or bi - not so much promoting it as a way to be, more kind of saying "this is normal, it's not scary".

At some point there will be openly gay footballers competing in the premiership in much the same way as there are black and (not enough) asian players, there will be openly gay fans just as there are black and (again not enough) asian fans, there will be a normality to it.

All that's happened is that we've stuck our head above the parapet and in a sense we have no choice. We play in a council owned ground and must therefore abide by council policies which are to promote equality between genders, sexes, ages and races.

And if it can bring in a few extra quid so much the better, crucially the club's heart has to be in it, this can't just be a publicity exercise, there has to be a conscious effort to root out and remove homophobia.

Hampton Scratcher said...

Just as long as it's not compulsory.