Are you local? City takes on United's 'foreign legion'

Manchester's rival football clubs battle for heart of the city

In a move which is certain to exacerbate one of the greatest rivalries in English football, Manchester City will unveil a controversial advertising campaign today proclaiming themselves the "real" team of Manchester.

Billboard and bus-stop posters in City's light blue colours will be put up all around the centre of Manchester using the slogan "This Is Our City". Some United fans are bound to regard the campaign as antagonistic as it appears to be a reference to long-running claims by City supporters that a significant proportion of the Old Trafford club's following is made up of glory-hunters from the south of England.

One of the City posters even uses the slogan "Real Manchester", a play on words that refers both to the famous Madrid club and the claims by City supporters that many Reds are not genuine Mancunians. "Do You Come From Manchester?" is a City chant on derby days. City have in effect parked their tanks on United's lawn by even booking some poster sites to the west of Manchester city centre in areas which are regarded as strongholds of the Red Devils. Other slogans include "Greater Manchester" and "Pure Manchester", all on the light blue background. City claimed last night that it was merely trying to "emphasise the intrinsic bond between Manchester City Football Club and the city of Manchester".

Matt Lowery, City's assistant company secretary, said: "We are known as 'the Manchester club' by Mancunians, and we wanted a campaign to celebrate the wit of our supporters."

Mr Lowery agreed that the campaign would spark heated debate. "It will create a great buzz around the city, which we get anyway when we have a derby, but that's only twice a year. We thought it would be fun to get the city buzzing with banter about who owns it."

He said it was not for him to say how Old Trafford would react. "They've got their own brand and objectives. I think United fans will see the humour."

A Manchester Institute for Popular Culture study three years ago found that a greater proportion of City season-ticket holders (40 per cent) lived in Manchester than United season- ticket holders (29 per cent).

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