Salford City – gimmick or goodwill?

salford city moor laneNon-League football is dramatically different to the big league, although like the Premier, it can delight, infuriate, frustrate, provoke hair loss and send people into a life of alcoholic over-indulgence. Will the “Class of ‘92” still consider their investment in Manchester United’s neighbours, City, in 12 months’ time, when they realise what they have actually bought in to?

By the way, it’s Salford not Manchester City. The “Ammies” of the Northern Premier League Division One North, a club that attracts less than 200 people to its home games.

Now the “Class of 92” seem like a fairly decent bunch, despite their TOWIE tans and suits, and they are making the right noises. Is it just a publicity stunt that tells us, “hey, we’re a bunch of good guys”, or is it a genuine attempt to put something back into the game? We would all like to think it’s the latter.

There are encouraging signs if the early comments are to be believed. A hub for local talent. If that means Salford City will look to develop young players, perhaps boosted by the coaching and advice of the Nevilles, Giggs, Scholes and Butt, then terrific. But it will fly in the face of how most non-league clubs operate when the next purveyor of a snake oil cure rolls into town.

The other claim is that the club will achieve Football League status in 15 years. Does the Manchester area really need another Football League club? No. How can they possibly co-exist with United and Manchester City? Ambition is great, but it has to be realistic ambition that is supported.

Let’s hope that Salford do not get tempted to throw too much money around in anticipation of the United quintet filling the club’s coffers. Too often clubs live beyond their means as they try to give the impression they are “big time”. Fans will, though, expect that in 2014-15, the Ammies will have a bigger playing budget.

Some of Salford’s Northern Premier rivals will doubtless accuse them of having just that because of the club’s association with Giggs and co., but most people haven’t even heard of the club. It’s a 15 minute drive and almost five miles from their Moor Lane ground to Old Trafford, but the difference between the two is a million miles or more.

That doesn’t mean there’s not a place for clubs like Salford, who are hardly uprooting trees this season. They are below mid-table in Division One North and their last home game attracted around 120 people. They haven’t had a home fixture in the league since the United old boys announced their plans, so it could be that in the final weeks, curiosity will bring a few more through the gate.

The cynics might suggest that the involvement of the Class of ’92 could be a statement of dissatisfaction about what’s going on at Old Trafford at the moment. FC United of Manchester is already a rebel breakaway group, could Salford City be another in disguise?

For the time being, it’s worth giving the Class of ’92 the benefit of the doubt. They should be applauded for supporting lower level football. But don’t be surprised that once they realise what what goes on in an industry with a broken business model, it may be short-lived project.

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