Reigning netball champions Manchester Thunder are returning to the AO Arena once again this spring and are hoping to smash a league record in the process.
The best part is, you can help them break it by simply grabbing a ticket.
The high-flying Northern side are enjoying yet another impressive season, currently sitting second in the Netball Super League with a game in hand on Surrey Storm at the top of the table.
However, as well as hoping to retain their NSL title and win their fifth trophy in just over a decade, the Thunder are also looking to earn themselves a league record in their upcoming game against local rivals Leeds Rhinos at the AO and it’s looking very doable.
Heading back to the AO Arena for the first in over a year since their last meeting at the legendary Manc venue back in March 2022, the fixture promises to be “bigger and better than ever”.
After besting the Rhinos (52–67) over at Leeds Beckett earlier this month, Manchester Thunder are now looking to surpass the blockbuster scenes from last year’s arena match, where more than 4,000 fans turned up to see them take on the league’s newest team, with a target of at 5,960 attendees now set.
Dubbed the ‘Battle of the Roses’, the Lancashire lot’s aim is to not only beat their Yorkshire counterparts once again but to beat the official NSL record for the most supporters at a home netball game, which currently stands at 5,959.
Netball Manchester Live 2023 is already one of Manchester’s biggest annual sporting events but with this milestone now up for grabs, it’s set to be a big afternoon whether you’re a netball fan, a fan of sport in general or just want to play your small part of history.
The sport as a whole is riding quite the high in recent years, with a record crowd of nearly 9,000 fans piling into Birmingham’s Utilita Arena for the season opener back in 2020, where all 10 teams compete in a massive day of netball action.
Cementing themselves as one of the best teams in the NSL, Manchester Thunder are hoping to keep pushing that momentum further and, who knows, with the AO Arena capacity at around 21,000, they could even go on to break international records in the 10,000s.
With over 2,000 tickets already sold, Manchester’s premier netball team are on track to reach a record attendance, but every friend, family member and netball-lover you convince to come along helps them move a step closer to achieving this amazing feat.
Tickets for Manchester Thunder vs Leeds Rhinos Netball at the AO Arena on 7 May are on sale now. You can grab yours HERE and we hope to see you there!
With one of the lowest average ages in the league, the squad’s stellar second-place finish looks to be a sign of even better things to come next season.
Better still, the accolades didn’t stop there as player turned coach (for this season at least), Ryan Williams, won the National Futsal Series Tier Two Coach of the Year award at the 2023 Grand Finals as well.
After suffering a heavy ACL injury, Williams decided to spend his year coaching the B team, which he also led to second position, finishing just six points behind league leaders Derby and only just missing out on a place in the Futsal Champions League preliminaries.
At just 23, Ryan is one of the youngest to have ever won the award and having studied at Ashton Sixth Form College, the school passed on a “huge well done” to the youngster, adding that “the Sport and Public Services department, in particular, are hugely proud of your achievement.”
Writing on social media, Williams also heaped massive praise and credit on co-owner Ilya Ovechkin and coach Raducio King, among many others, who helped him on his coaching journey.
Speaking to The Manc, he went on to add: “It was my first season working with this squad and the competition was high.
“There was never an easy game with a lot of other great coaches across the country in Tier 2, so to win Coach of the Season is my greatest achievement as a coach. Manchester Futsal winning Club of the Season also goes to show our club values and how well the club is run from the academy right up to the first team.
“It shows how much work all the staff have put in this season to make us the best club in the country.”
With two teams finishing as runners-up in the two highest leagues in the country, and the women’s team beginning to shape an exciting new squad ahead of returning to the fold next season, it’s been a brilliant year all-round for Manchester Futsal Club. We’re excited to see what comes next.
Featured Image — Manchester Futsal Club (via Twitter)
Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim gives Manchester United an ultimatum after submitting fifth bid
Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani has issued Manchester United an ultimatum after submitting a fifth and supposedly final bid to buy the club.
Entering his fifth revised bid to buy Man United outright on Wednesday, the Middle Eastern banker and member of the Qatari royal family is reported to have told the club he is willing to pay “no more than £6 billion” for the takeover, an offer which sees him become the first to match the Glazer’s asking price.
However, in trying to give the negotiations a much-needed jolt — with Sheikh Jassim said to have grown frustrated with the long, drawn-out bidding process — his latest proposal also came with an ultimatum, telling the owners that they have until Friday, 8 June to accept his offer or else he will walk away.
So, rather than being strung along by the Glazers any further and potentially being dragged into another round of bidding with an arbitrary deadline, he has now given them until the end of the week to return their decision.
As Sky Sports‘ Kaveh Solhekol went on to explain, Sheikh Jassim is now “frustrated and fed up” with how the bidding process has gone thus far, noting that talks first began almost seven months ago and there have been multiple so-called ‘deadlines’ that have led to little consequence or progress.
As a result, his bidding team have told the Glazers, board members and the Raine Group officials overseeing any potential deal that he will “no longer engage with the process” if the fifth bid is not accepted by Friday.
The chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB) who spent time in England whilst being educated at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst also wants to get the deal done as quickly as possible in order to clear the debts and properly fund the project at the earliest opportunity ahead of next season.
In addition to clearing United’s debts which are estimated to be just under £1bn, the sheikh will reportedly pump sizeable funds into redeveloping the stadium (or building a new one) and investing in the squad. While his exact net worth is not known, his family’s wealth is estimated at around £275 billion.
As for whether the Glazers will actually adhere to Sheikh Jassim’s deadline and accept his fifth and final bid, it remains to be seen, but it looks like someone needs to take charge in these negotiations if they actually going to move forward.
Gary Neville has already warned that the “shoddy” bidding process could end up jeopardising next season if it continues to go on any longer and many fans think the Qatari prince’s all-or-nothing offer is the only option to finally get rid of the Glazers.