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Embedding, Disembedding and Re-embedding Manchester City

Picture of Steve Millington

Wednesday 22 November 2017, 12.00PM to 1.00pm

Speaker(s): Dr Steve Millington, Manchester Metropolitan University


While certain global brands might be characteristically fluid, many brands are more epistemologically, culturally and affectively fixed. Crucially, Holt (2006) recognises that brands cannot generate meanings to which people will automatically subscribe, but must tap into broader sensations, desires, opinions and identities. Brands may be conceived as ‘ideological parasites’, tapping into pre-existing discourses and feelings, into ‘myth markets’ (2006:374). In 2008 Manchester City Football Club launched the Our City branding campaign (Edensor & Millington 2008). In contrast to the global aspirations of other more well-known football brands, the campaign tapped into popular pre-existing structures of feeling, belief and identity through which individuals both ‘locate themselves and define their locality’ (Hague and Mercer 1998, 113). Here such mythic elements were locally embedded, with a particularly situated appeal to a historical, geographical and cultural context, whereby the local becomes the site of claims for authenticity as a marker distinguished from the inauthentic global. Consequently, the Manchester City brand is less promiscuously available to multiple interpretation and appropriation. Cultivating the loyalty of local fans may make commercial sense for a team struggling to win trophies, but events off the pitch rapidly changed following a takeover by an Abu Dhabi based oil-rich family. Subsequent investment has transformed Manchester City into a winning team with global aspirations. To achieve this the new owners set about purchasing overseas football clubs in Melbourne and New York, to form the City Football Group. Consequently, this paper revisits embeddedness of the Manchester City brand, and its subsequent dis/re-embedding.


Dr Steve Millington is a Director of the Institute of Place Management and Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Manchester Metropolitan University.  As co-investigator on the ESRC funded High Street UK2020, and the Innovate project Bringing Big Data to Smaller Users, Steve is currently investigating town centre decline and renewal, working with retail intelligence specialists Springboard.  Steve is co-author of two edited collections Spaces of Vernacular Creativity: Rethinking the Cultural Economy and Cosmopolitan Urbanism.  His other work includes publications on placemaking, focusing on lighting urban space, and the relationship between football and the city.

Location: LMB/102b