Manchester United have teamed up with Merky FC, the new campaign set up by rapper Stormzy to improve diversity in football.
Announced on Wednesday 3 November, Stormzy‘s initiative has partnered with 10 other brands including United and lead sponsor Adidas to address racial inequality in the football industry.
The overarching goal of Merky FC is to provide more opportunities both on and off the pitch to those of Black heritage as well as young people of colour across the UK.
The multi-year programme is committed to enhancing and protecting diverse representation throughout football by providing a multitude of work placements commencing in early 2023.
According to statistics from Adidas, while Black players make up 43% of the on-pitch presence, just 6.7% of senior roles are taken by professionals who identify as Black or Mixed heritage.
Speaking on Sky Sports News following the announcement, the 29-year-old musician, entrepreneur and philanthropist — awarded an honorary degree from the University of Exeter earlier this year — explained the idea behind the campaign and what the various partnerships will deliver.
Other partners include the likes of Fulham FC, LADbible, sports publisher GOAL and Sky Sports themselves, all of which are committed to helping provide funding, work placements and overall support as part of the inclusivity-driven scheme.
As for the United, the club is one of several allowing people aged between 16 and 25 to apply for the nationwide programme from 4 November, pledging roles within their Alliances & Partnerships, Ticketing, Technology and Retail & Merchandising departments.
Following the unveiling, a Merky FC launch event was streamed on the organisation’s YouTube channel, featuring significant figures from across the footballing industry such as Ian Wright, Jeanette Kwakye, Leon Mann MBE, Jaydee Dyer, Henry Frimpong and many more.
Together, the team of athletes, sports personalities, broadcasters and industry figures discussed the disparities within football careers and how movements like this can help secure greater recognition of Black talent in all facets of the game.
You can watch the full live stream to hear Stormzy and co. talk about the campaign in more detail down below:
Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott ‘working on plans’ to screen England vs France game at AO Arena gig
Paul Heaton has said that he’s ‘working on plans’ to screen the England vs France World Cup match ahead of his gig in Manchester this weekend.
Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott are set to play a huge gig at the AO Arena this Saturday – clashing with England’s quarter finals game.
Paul has said that they understand fans ‘might prefer not to miss the youthful looks of Jack Grealish’.
His announcement that they are hoping to show the game has drawn a mixed reaction from fans.
Many welcomed the news that they wouldn’t have to miss the huge match from the Qatar World Cup.
But others said that it would ruin the show, with one person tweeting: “Please don’t ruin the show with that. I’ll be wanting my money back if I’m going to see football rather than the music!”
Paul replied to say: “We won’t. We just have to make sure the place isn’t half full.”
He has now gone on to address the divided opinions on the football being screened at the AO Arena, sharing a photo of himself pulling a silly face with the words: “Me trying to work out what to do next Saturday @England @AOArena.”
Many fans have pointed out that Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott aren’t actually due on stage until 9pm and that, all being well, the game will be over by then anyway.
Others have pleaded that they don’t cut the show short to fit it in around the England vs France game, and wondered what it would mean for Billy Bragg’s supporting slot.
Jacqui Abbott hasn’t been able to perform with the group for the last few shows due to ill health, but it’s hoped she’ll be back on stage with her former The Beautiful South bandmate by the time they gig in Manchester.
The duo offered refunds to anyone who no longer wanted to attend the concerts without Jacqui after she was told to sit them out on doctor’s orders.
But Paul added: “For those who choose to retain their tickets for the next three shows, I promise you that myself & the boys will put on a show to remember. We’ll sorely miss Jacqui but our intent is to make those who refund their tickets bitterly regret that decision. Thanks for your support.”
The pair were on the receiving end of a lot of praise from members of the public after announcing the tour, and capping ticket prices at £30.
They went on BBC Breakfast to speak about rising costs in the music industry while promoting their new album.
He said at the time: “I’m very much against greed in the industry. I feel as though there is quite a lot. We are trying to just battle and say ‘we’ll do it for as low as we can’.”
They also said they want to ‘set a bit of an example’ for the rest of the industry.
Featured image: Publicity picture
Gary Neville is taking The Overlap Live on tour with Roy Keane, Jamie Carragher and more
Gary Neville’s The Overlap has quickly become one of the most popular sports podcasts in the UK and now they’re taking the hit Sky Sports show on the road.
The Overlap Live Tour was announced on Monday, 5 December, revealing four massive live shows across the UK and Ireland in 2023, featuring go-to guests Jamie Carragher, Roy Keane and more.
Due to high demand, a fourth show in Dublin was added to the list of dates which will no doubt please everyone’s favourite irritable Irishman.
The sports discussion podcast and YouTube show gives exclusive insights into some of Britain’s greatest athletes and a behind-the-scenes look at their lives outside of the sporting area.
While Neville and co. have held standalone live shows and fan debates before in the likes of London and Manchester, this is the first official Overlap Tour, with the run ending at O2 Apollo Manchester on 8 June.
Regular host Josh Denzel and Sky Sports’Monday Night Football presenter Kelly Cates will be joining them on their Overlap Live trip around the UK next year.
Used to heated discussion and no-holds-barred opinions, Gary said: “The reaction to the Wembley show has been brilliant so we are delighted to be able to confirm three new dates… It’s fair to say these will be lively shows and I think all three of us know exactly what we are in for!
“As with the Wembley show we’ll be opening up to questions throughout the night, which we might live to regret, but it should be interesting to say the least – particularly for me and Roy in Liverpool! Seriously though, these will all be great nights – so join us if you like!”