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'Gay-friendly' initiative announced

One story that came out (pun very much intended) was the announcement that the club had signed up to become part of what is known as the Diversity Champions Scheme. The scheme, run by gay rights group Stonewall is designed primarily for employers to focus on a range of gay-friendly initiatives.

According to Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill:

"The work can range from looking at recruitment processes to what's already going on in the workplace, to developing marketing is mainly about Manchester City wanting to be an exemplary employer."

This prompted some of tabloids today however to unsurprisingly run headlines such as 'Men City' (The Sun) and 'Man on Man City' (The Mirror), whilst it has also been suggested that it could lead to a series of changes such as a pink away kit or YMCA becoming the new song the teams run out to.

A by-product of the initiative will be to try and attract members of the gay community to the club, but this in itself is not a particularly groundbreaking move. The club has always attempted to have strong links to the community - I believe that local schools still benefit from free tickets from the club, whilst when the club were at Maine Road a number of tickets were made available to the University. A recent study also looked at the club when compiling the report 'Football and its communities'

I don't know what the current percentage of City's attendance is actually gay, or whether the initiative will see significant number swapping Canal Street for the City of Manchester Stadium on a Saturday afternoon, but the club could also have one eye on attempting to reach as a wide an audience as possible to ensure future attendances remain at a sustained level. Don't forget that the club has loans on the basis of future attendances, but the average attendances have dropped year on year since moving to the new stadium.

If some of the 'newer' fans who arrived at the time of the stadium move are now beginning to drift away, then the club will have to look at the 'next generation' of supporters, and as a demographic, the gay community in Manchester - with a young-ish age range, above average disposable income and increasing numbers would fit the sort of target market that the clubs marketing advisors would suggest they target.