Football: Wembley visit swells Maine Road coffers

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The Independent Online
DAVID BERNSTEIN, the Manchester City chairman, yesterday revealed his master plan for Maine Road after the club overcame Gillingham on penalties at Wembley to return to the First Division.

Rather than be jealous of Manchester United's treble success, Bernstein claimed: "I don't worry about United's success, I see it as a magnificent opportunity for us. We must strive to match their achievements.

"My great hope is for Manchester to become the greatest football city in the whole of Europe."

Bernstein expects to complete a deal in summer that will see City commit their future to the new Millennium Stadium that is to be built to stage the Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

City can look to a pounds 7m-plus boost to their finances following the play- off glory. They will pick up pounds 500,000 from ticket sales and extra merchandising from their first Wembley visit in 13 years. With 13,000 season tickets already sold for next season, there will now be a rush from the club's staunch supporters and that could rake in another pounds 2m.

Extra advertising and television revenue could mean a further pounds 4m, with the prospect of one of several companies interested in becoming the club's new sponsors chipping in another pounds 1m.