Over the past decade or so, Manchester City have cemented themselves as one of the most impressive teams anywhere in Europe’s top five leagues.
Moreover, the City Football Group (CFG) itself has assembled a multinational sporting organisation that has helped develop everything from the training facilities and youth set-up to local residential areas.
That being said, while the Champions League is one of the few trophies they are still yet to win, European nights have become a regular and special occasion for the club and it is this level of investment from the CFG that has seen them deliver an unforgettable experience thanks to the City Tunnel Club.
We were invited along by City’s official crypto trading partner OKX to sample the Tunnel Club for ourselves and, safe to say, it was quite the night.
Entering the Etihad
Even upon arriving at the Etihad Stadium, the welcome you receive lets you know you’re in for a night of luxury and being doted upon like you were one of the execs or players themselves.
Upbeat music plays and people take photographs as if you were waking the red carpet (or blue in this case), you are received by a charming greeter with some of the most convincing small talk you’ll find anywhere in hospitality, before being taken downstairs to a VIP section.
At this point, you’re met by even more friendly staff who escort you to your table for the evening, lay out the menus and ask you if it’s your first become and whether you’d like a drink. Strong start.
The Tunnel Club menu is fit for royalty
After glancing at the complimentary City programmes, we are handed a menu full of what we can only describe as some of the poshest grub we’ll probably ever eat.
Braised ox cheek and beef fillet, seafood and foie royal (because style can still be sustainable); fancy compound butters and much more that we daren’t spoil in case you ever try it and because we don’t want a stern telling off.
The menu undoubtedly changes as the season goes on but what we’re trying to say is that there was plenty of variation, it was exquisitely presented and absolutely delicious.
Oh, and then there’s the whole list of classic cocktails and City specials.
Better still, not only did all the food and drink we could muster come as part of the Tunnel Club VIP package but you could order it whenever you liked and have it in front of you in a heartbeat.
We ordered a beer for after half-time and it was promptly handed to us upon returning to the table. The most doted on we’ve been and perhaps the fanciest we’ve ever felt. Little do they know we were happily eating beans on toast with a brew the night before.
Although we’d already seen the players coming in upstairs shortly after we’d arrived as they stepped off the team bus and were met with rapturous applause and wide-eye children (and adults, to be fair), the unique selling point of Manchester City’s Tunnel Club is catching a glimpse that no others can.
Well, truthfully, it was far more than a glimpse: it was the entire time before the match as well at half-time, as supporters line up against the glass to watch the players from both sides walk down the tunnel just inches from their face. And yes, Haaland is even bigger in real life.
We even got to see them trotting back up the tunnel after the game, having intimate chats with referees, staff and other players that you would otherwise never be close enough to witness. They were on the pitch only moments ago and now they’re in closer proximity than you get to some of your relatives.
Speaking of which…
Best seat in the house
Some of us in attendance had been lucky enough to walk out while the Champions League music is playing before, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less of an unforgettable moment the second or third time around.
No matter whether you’re a red or a blue, the hairs go up on your arms and chills run down the back of your neck. No matter whether it’s the home side or the visitors, it still feels like a ‘pinch-me’ moment seeing top professional players lining up in front of you, let alone watching them play.
What was even more surreal was that we were sat so close to the pitch that we could see the players chatting on the subs bench and even make out the tiniest of hairs on Pep’s shiny bald head.
We did all of this whilst sitting on soft padded leather chairs and butt warme—I mean, heated seats; they even had charging ports like on trains and modern buses. It was everything you could possibly need.
We also got to see this bit of kung fu madness live. He’s a bit good, isn’t he?
What a way to spend a night at the footy
After the full-time whistle blew and everyone had caught breath at that piece of late-on magic, we headed back down to drink our last pints and eat our dessert, both of which we had asked to be served after the game so we didn’t have to rush. City’s hospitality staff were more than happy to oblige.
Lastly, before heading back on the tram packed full of happy fans, the servers kindly asked if we liked a photo to remember the night and the maître d’ — very good at her job, by the way — couldn’t have been keener to hear our feedback. All we could think to say was ‘can we come back?’
The VIP Verdict
Now, we’re not gonna pretend that anything compares to the feeling of being in the stands with your friends and family, hot pie in hand, as the songs start ringing around the ground and limbs start flying. However, as far as a gift for City-supporting loved one, it’ll blow them away.
If you want to feel like a high roller for the night or have always wondered what football hospitality is like, we hazard to guess you won’t find better than the Manchester City Tunnel Club.
In fact, one of our fellow guests who had been to several similar experiences at sporting venues around the UK said on the evening, “This blows Wembley out the water”. Big words.
City’s Tunnel Club is an extravagant way to experience the Champions League and one that is fitting of the level of prestige the club are gradually beginning to acquire on the European stage. As far as sporting hospitality goes, one of the finest we’ve ever come across.
Question is, will this be the year they manage to get the long-sought silverware to match that on the table?
Andy Cole makes the case for Ivan Toney as a January transfer target for Manchester United
Manchester United legend Andy Cole has suggested that Manchester United should consider making sidelined striker Ivan Toney their next transfer target in the January window as they look to strengthen their side.
The Brentford striker is currently serving an eight-month ban following a total of 232 breaches of FA rules for gambling offences and hasn’t played since May but is, nevertheless, still considered one of the best centre-forwards in the Premier League and earned his first England call-up back in March.
Following an Athletic report which claimed an unnamed football agent has now confirmed Toney is “destined” to leave the West London club once he returns to the fold, the former Man United player and prolific number nine has said he believes Toney would be a good addition.
In an interview with Betfred, the 51-year-old said of Toney, “I like him. If Manchester United did move to sign Ivan, then he’s only going to make them a little bit better than they find themselves at this exact moment.”
“He’s been a key player for Brentford and he’s scored plenty of goals for them in the Premier League”, says Cole; “if the opportunity came up, then why shouldn’t Manchester United consider signing him?”
While he did go on to say that the prospect depends on what the club’s recruitment plan is going forward, he insisted that given Toney’s experience at the top level now and that he’s commonly considered in his ‘prime’ years now, he could add more goal threat.
Cole even went on to suggest that Toney could form a partnership up top for United, adding, “he could even help Rasmus Højlund come through.” Højlund scored his first goal on his Champions League debut for the club in their 4-3 defeat to Bayern Munich.
Although he acknowledged that it might be a step up for the forward, it goes without saying that Erik ten Hag‘s team are in a difficult period right so far this season, not to mention with absences and injuries piling up, and he also compared the potential challenge to his own move up the football pyramid.
“When I moved from Bristol City to Newcastle, did people believe I could make the step up? I don’t think they did, but I was able to. When I moved from Newcastle to Man United, did people believe I could make the step up? I don’t think so but I proved that I could, so it’s all about giving players the opportunity…”
“You’re never going to know whether they’re capable or not until they’re given the opportunity to show that they can do it.” Cole also argued that regardless of his well-publicised off-field issues with betting, like with United’s other ongoing dramas at present, they “shouldn’t have an impact on the players”.
Citing Brighton’s Evan Ferguson as another “really good player” that many clubs will be interested in come January and next summer, he said that the likelihood of him signing him is less favourable, noting that “if [he’s] scoring hat-tricks in the Premier League, then he’s already worth around £100 million now by that comparison.”
When speaking in his tell-all podcast interview back in August, Toney did reveal that he’s been a Liverpool fan all his life but that he “like[s] watching Arsenal and how they play and kind of how passionate the fans are”.
The Gunners have already been linked with a possible £50 million sweep for his signature but we’ve seen plenty of targets snapped up by rival clubs already this season. Would you take Ivan Toney at Old Trafford, United fans?
Featured Image — Ivan Toney/Andy Cole (via Instagram)
Sale Sharks Academy raise over £17,000 for Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital after completing Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon
Sale Sharks’ Academy team have managed to raise over £17,000 for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital after completing the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon earlier this year.
The inaugural Leeds Marathon, named after former rugby league icon and motor neurone disease campaigner Rob Burrow, took place back in May with more than 12,000 people taking part and over £4 million raised in charitable donations for various worthy causes. Immense.
While MND was obviously a key focus of the event after Burrow was diagnosed with the condition in December 2019, those joining in could choose to fundraise for any organisation and, in the instance of the Sale Sharks, they chose something close to home and their hearts.
Running the 26.2 miles in aid of the RMCH, the largest children’s hospital in the UK, Sharks Academy manager Fergus Mulchrone and six members of his backroom staff raised a whopping total of £17,048.
With help from Peninsula, who committed to matching the amount raised by Mulchrone and his coaches, the team saw their total of £7,303 raised through their JustGiving page alone, along with further donations amassed in the build-up and after the event, doubled by the organisation.
Teaming up with the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Peninsula agreed to double the total donations figure provided the Sharks hit their target; that’s exactly what they did and then some.
Following their impressive feat, the hospital tweeted: “Congratulations to Sale Sharks who ran the Leeds Marathon AND hit their £5,000 fundraising target. They’re the first to raise the £5K eligible for match-funding by Peninsula in our ‘Making a Difference…Together’ scheme.”
The initiative, which is set to run throughout the entirety of 2023, saw the HR, health and safety firm set aside £100,000 to encourage businesses to do their bit and help raise money for the hospital.