Man City hunt for new media agency as club faces exile from European football

Manchester City: working with Creativebrief
Manchester City: working with Creativebrief

Reigning Premier League champions split with PHD Manchester in October after appeal for influencers to promote stadium atmosphere backfired.

Manchester City are seeking a media agency as the club faces its first season in a decade outside the Uefa Champions League, following a two-year ban from European competition over breaches of financial fair-play rules.

RFIs have been sent out by club owner City Football Group, which controls a number of clubs worldwide, including New York City FC, Melbourne City FC and Spain’s Girona. City Football Group is working with Creativebrief on the process.

Man City have been without a media agency since October 2019, when it parted ways with PHD Manchester. That decision followed a widely mocked campaign calling for influencers to help promote the atmosphere at home ground Etihad Stadium.

The ad, which featured on influencer marketing platform Tribe, sought "male students, young professionals and those new to Manchester (aged 18 to 55)" to create content that could "tell an authentic and genuine story of what it’s like to be at a game". 

Since then, however, the club has faced bigger problems than transparent attempts to cultivate its image. Its European ban came after it was found to have falsely inflated its sponsorship revenues, following the publication of leaked documents by Der Spiegel in 2018 that seem to show that the £67.5m annual income from the club’s main sponsor, Etihad, was actually being paid primarily by the club’s owner, Sheikh Mansour.

The ban has since been overshadowed by the indefinite suspension of football across Europe due to coronavirus. Man City were leading Real Madrid 2-1 after the first leg of their last-16 tie in this season’s Champions League when the competition was put on hold. 

It remains unclear when and how the tournament will be resumed and whether the crisis will affect next year’s competition. Man City have appealed against their ban and reports have suggested that if the appeal is not able to be resolved by 1 June, Uefa may be forced to admit them to next year’s Champions’ League after all.

Man City declined to comment.

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