One of the hardest parts about getting organised for a major tournament is finding the right place to watch all the games. Planning is one thing but actually getting in somewhere is a battle in of itself.
We’ve been racking our brains over the best places in town to watch England at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and after being invited along to ‘Road to Victory’ on Tuesday, we might just have a winning candidate for you.
Road to Victory is the flagship event from fledgling entertainment company AIX Live (Amplified Immersive eXperience), who will be bringing the biggest fan zone anywhere in Europe to Depot Mayfield.
And when we say biggest, it really is massive. Try over 100,000 square feet.
It really is the biggest fan zone in Europe
With a capacity of over 6,000, Road to Victory (RtV) is set to bring the most immersive, multi-sensory football experience we have ever come across besides being in the stadium itself to hordes of England fans living in Manchester.
Playing England games only (because it’s win or bust as far as they’re concerned), the immense space being used for the fan park will be familiar to those who have been to Warehouse Project before, though it’s never been quite like this.
Even walking in was quite the experience.
Stretching across three rooms promising crowds of between 1,500 and 2,500 each, the transformed venue promises music, light shows and, most importantly, giant screens on almost every wall to watch the games. You literally can’t miss it.
With everything from burgers and dirty fries to nachos, wings and more – catered by Manchester food brand Oh My Glaze – not to mention all the booze you’ll need to launch into the air when we score, you’ll have everything you could ask for in this unprecedented supporter space.
Those paying for seated tickets in the main room or purchasing one of 200 VIP tickets each game via donation can even pre-order food and drink more than an hour and a half before kick-off.
An interactive audio-visual experience
But it’s just more than tables, chairs and a big telly – you can get that at pretty much any pub. What we were most blown away by were the production levels AIX have delivered for this event.
In addition to the sea of neon lights and huge speakers echoing around the room, our sneak preview included a glimpse at the stunning AV packages promised both before, during and after the game.
As well as visual team sheet presentations which will see the starting 11 read out by an announcer, there will be live match stats throughout the game, running ticker tape around the room and dynamic moments such as a 4D virtual heartbeat should Southgate‘s side win a penalty. Very, very cool.
There’s also plenty of audience participation, not just in terms of cheering on the Three Lions but with quizzes, prize competitions, special guests, DJs and more.
There are even digital activities accessible via a simple QR code such as a virtual game of Pong, where thousands of audience members can play a giant multiplayer game against whoever England’s opponents are that day. They’re really trying to deliver an all-around fan experience.
It goes beyond just a game
Perhaps the thing we were most impressed with was AIX’s collaboration with the sporting charity Football Beyond Borders (FBB), an organisation dedicated to improving the young people and local communities through the beautiful game.
But this isn’t just a publicity partnership, RtV and AIX will be donating £500 for every goal England scores in the group games directly to FBB and, better still, a whopping £1,000 for every goal scored in the knockout stages — which will be getting to, thank you very much.
It’s this kind of dedication and confidence in the project and its sheer scale that we admire, as they’re just as convinced it’s coming home as we are. Moreover, they’re making sure that fans and football lovers across the country will benefit regardless of the end result come the final on 18 December.
Tickets for Road to Victory are going to fly
England’s first game against Iran kicks off at 1pm on 21 November but Road to Victory at Depot Mayfield will be open from 10:30am and won’t be kicking people out until the last drink is sunk, “or the license kicks in” — their words, not ours.
In short, the Depot and AIX plan to put on after-parties when England wins each game, not if. This is strictly an over-18s fan zone designed for limbs, limbs and more limbs.
Standing tickets for Road to Victory start at just £9.50 and seated packages from £15 (plus booking fees), with more information on drink and food pre-order packages set to be released soon.
You’ll be able to buy passes from the likes of Kaboodle, Ticketmaster and See Tickets, so make sure to keep an eye out on their socials for updates and you can find out more info at roadtovictory.co.uk.
Although the sudden signing might have seemed like it came out of nowhere, ten Hag clearly had him on his shortlist and for any fans still sceptical as to whether it was the right move, a recently surfaced clip of the Bayern Munich man speaking at Old Trafford will no doubt have gone down well.
Speaking ahead of his former club RB Leipzig’s match against his new team in the Champions League over two years ago, the 28-year-old was asked if he felt nervous about playing in such an iconic stadium and big competition.
While his nerves were evidently calm ahead of the game, the Austrian midfielder stated, “I’m just happy to be here because I used to see this stadium on TV as a kid and I always wanted to come here… being here as [the] opposition is something very special”.
The interviewer went on to ask how he felt being part of the squad expected to win the tie, to which Sabitzer responded: “In my opinion, United are a big name, a good team and therefore favourites as well”.
Despite acknowledging the size and history of the club, the dynamic midfielder (who has often been used as a defender too) also insisted that he and his teammates “won’t hide from them” — yet another positive soundbite for United fans hoping he can carry the weight of the shirt and show up in big games.
Not only is the sort of thing Reds will be pleased to hear from the fairly impromptu signing, especially given the scattergun approach to the club’s recruitment strategy over the past decade, but Sabitzer is a key player in his national team and captained Leipzig during the most successful spell in their history.
It isn’t the only old video of a new United face fans have been enjoying recently either:
Moreover, the deal seems to have worked out for all parties. With Sabitzer looking for more game-time at the top level and having moved down another notch in the pecking order now the equally versatile João Cancelo has joined Bayern on loan, City looked to have done their neighbours a favour.
Issuing a statement on the club’s website confirming the move, Sabitzer said: “Sometimes in life you have to make quick and important decisions. From the moment I heard about this opportunity I knew it was right for me. I am a competitive player; I want to win and help the club achieve its aims this season.”
That kind of attitude is music to any fans ears.
They’ll also be looking forward to hopefully seeing worldies like this:
Marcus Rashford’s new celebration is spreading across the world of sport — but what does it mean?
Marcus Rashford’s new celebration is gradually taking over the world of sport as more and more athletes are pulling out his new trademark gesture.
The Manchester United man is absolutely on fire at the moment, enjoying the best run of form we’ve seen in his career thus far and, more importantly, looking happier and more confident than ever.
To go along with that, the 25-year-old recently pulled out a new celebration earlier this year, where he simply stops and points to his temple after scoring, which he has done 18 times already this season.
However, the celebration hasn’t stopped with Rashford: the likes of Tammy Abraham, Joshua Kimmich and more have pulled out ‘The Point’.
Fellow England star Bukayo Saka even pulled out Rashford’s celebration with his equaliser when his international teammate opened the scoring against Arsenal.
Either the biggest mark of respect or absolutely cold as ice.
As if that wasn’t cool enough — your fellow footballing colleagues helping your signature move go even more viral — the simple but effective statement point to the temple has transcended football and is now being whipped by sportsmen and women across various disciplines.
Starting with the likes of England and Sussex cricketer, Jofra Archer (a big United fan), the point is now being copied by some seriously notable athletes across the world.
Marcus is massive and Jof knows it:
And so does Novak Djokovic, it turns out, as the Serbian tennis star and record-equalling Grand Slam winner also pulled out the point over the weekend.
Winning a seriously impressive 10th Australian Open title, his 22nd major trophy, arguably the greatest ever to hold a racket chose recreated Rashford’s celebration to make the occasion.
As many have noted, if we start to see the likes of NBA and NFL players dedicating their celebrations to the Wythenshawe lad then he really has gone full superstar.
That being said, many are still curious at what exactly the celebration means and, as far as we can tell, it’s simply about focus.
Man United’s no. 10 regularly suffered with the noise and pressure of leading the line for his boyhood club in the past couple of seasons, but it now looks like he’s managed to put that behind him and get back in the zone, for lack of a better phrase.
Often closing his eyes while raising his finger to his temple, the celebration is clearly about shutting out all that excess noise and external distractions; staying locked in and allowing himself to get back to what he does best: being really good at football.