Despite glowing media coverage and glamorous Manchester United legends as owners, not everyone is in love with David Beckham’s new pet project, Salford City
“I’m really excited to be spending more time in Salford again,” said David Beckham, sounding like he actually meant it.
Yes, he’s back in English football ladies and gentlemen, after purchasing a ten percent stake in fifth-tier side Salford City, where his co-owners include the Neville brothers, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.
This was universally painted as “a good thing,” just as it was “a good thing” when Mr Beckham’s wife reunited with her former bandmates for the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London.
“And now,” said the BBC anchor Huw Edwards. “Something that can make everyone happy. The Spice Girls are back together…”
Everyone? Not in my living room Huw. The muscles in my alimentary canal went into spasm and I projectile vomited all over my flat screen.
The Spice Girls and Manchester United were roughly equal contributors when it came to making an entire era insufferable and now David Beckham is back in the band, like Robbie Williams returning to Take That, the UK’s other merchants of nineties nausea.
Salford are now the Manchester City of non-league football. Formed in 1940, they floated around the amateur and semi-professional leagues until 2014, when the Class of 92 decided they wanted to “put something back” into the area. They invested in Salford City.
City were promoted.
City were promoted again.
Like a lot of promoted sides City then sacked the managers who’d got them promoted, although in a break with tradition they got rid of them before the season had even started.
Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson took City into the fifth tier of English football, but Gary Neville said they’d been sacked due to “irreconcilable differences” with the board.
Yes, the same Gary Neville who lamented Manchester United had been turned into a banana republic when they started going through managers post-Ferguson like Donald Trump goes through bronzer.
This is only a feel-good story if your knowledge of non-league football begins and ends with the early rounds of the FA Cup, when the tv companies invariably cover plucky Salford, bankrolled by their coalition of plucky millionaires. Salford is not a backwater that was deprived of senior football until the divine intervention of the Class of 92. There are over a dozen professional and semi-professional clubs within half an hour, including United, City and FC United of Manchester, the club formed by fans disgusted by the Glazer regime.
During the summer City signed striker Adam Rooney from Aberdeen. What possessed a 30-year-old goalscorer to leave a Scottish top flight side for the fifth tier of English football? Well, a reported wage of £4000 per week might have had something to do with it.
The deal prompted the chairman of one of their local rivals, Accrington Stanley’s Adam Holt, to accuse Salford of trying to buy their way into the Football League. Their gates, although now up to 2500 per week, still don’t begin to cover their wages, but in reality the only difference between Salford, who are third in the National League, and most of the clubs around them is that people have heard of the men bankrolling them.
After signing the deal, Beckham, regurgitated another of English football’s great myths: that supporters are somehow admirable if they turn up to see a team that wins every week. “It is a really special club with a special group of people,” he said. “Salford City has achieved so much success in a short space of time, the fans are incredible.”
It wasn’t the first time a member of the Beckham family had given my alimentary canal a battering.