Stephen Sutton’s fund-raising campaign for the Teenage Cancer Trust has captured the nation’s imagination and been hugely successful. Having visited the TCT unit at University College Hospital in 2008 when the charity was adopted by Arsenal, and written in praise of their work at the time, I am one of many who have been touched by his story and efforts.
So I was pleased to receive a press release last week that began “Manchester City Football Club has announced that all proceeds from a forthcoming game will be donated to Teenage Cancer Trust and are calling on fans to join the Club in support of Stephen’s Story”
My immediate thought, knowing that City would take around £2m each home game, was ‘Wow, that really is generous”.
However, the next paragraph revealed the match in question was not City’s Premier League game against Aston Villa on Wednesday, but the U21 Premier League semi-final tie with Chelsea last Thursday. With season-ticket holders admitted free, adults for £3 and kids for £1 this would ordinarily realise an estimated £10,000 in gate receipts, though this was swollen by donations. Set against a wage bill of £10,000 every 23 minutes this did not seem particularly generous. Indeed, the fact the information was provided through a press release made me question the club’s motives. I wrote as much in Five Asides, a small feature published on Saturday.
Once, that would have been it. Now, through the immediacy of social media, it becomes very clear, very quickly, when you have got it wrong. My twitter feed quickly filled with angry responses from City fans including some pertinent comments that caused me to reflect.
Regardless of City's turnover, £10,000 is a sizeable sum - more than most, possibly all, other clubs have donated - and will pay for facilities that the TCT would otherwise not have been able to afford. The recipients will be very grateful. I understand City players have additionally contributed.
One of the side-effects in working in this industry is an excess of cynicism, especially in the world of modern football. For example, most clubs only allow player interviews if in conjunction with either a sponsor, or to promote their charitable work. The phrasing of the press release, with the identity of the match delayed until the second paragraph, triggered that cynicism reflex.
I now recognise the press release was designed to encourage fans to attend the match, and contribute, rather than an attempt to garner good publicity.
I was already aware - and mentioned in the original piece - that City do a lot of valued work in the community and do not question the motives of the people involved in Thursday’s event. If any of those feel insulted I apologise. I have asked for the original story to be removed.
- More about:
- Manchester City