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The city of trebles: Manchester rules over football once again
Plus: Another scandal in Rochdale, and why Salford is the UK's 'little Hong Kong'
Dear readers — horns are sounding, helicopters are in the air and looking out of our window onto sunny St Ann’s Square, we’re seeing a marked increase in topless men and light blue bucket hats. Town is filling up with City fans ahead of the open top bus tour to celebrate the club’s treble, which was secured this weekend.
The parade starts at Beetham Tower on Deansgate around 6.30pm and will end with a stage show on Oxford Street at 7.30pm. Transport for Greater Manchester says: “A number of roads across the city centre will be closed for the route and there is likely to be significant congestion on roads that remain open. We strongly advise you not to drive into the city centre.” More on the parade and Manchester’s return to the pinnacle of European football below.
Over the weekend, our data reporter Daniel Timms took a deep dive into Greater Manchester’s schools. It is the first in a series of articles we have planned on the topic, looking at whether the city region’s school system is delivering for our young people at such a crucial time. Daniel looked at how grade attainment has changed over the last three decades. It doesn’t make for encouraging reading.
Thanks to those of you who shared the piece on social media. “Honestly… I love @ManchesterMill we need this kind of journalism for GM,” tweeted the theatre director Jenna Omeltschenko.
Toads, mummies and social change
From today’s sponsor: Looking after exotic toads and protecting ancient mummies is not the only kind of work being done at Manchester Museum — although they do plenty of that. As of last week, the organisation now has a Social Justice Manager, a post that illustrates the organisation’s mission to be socially responsible to communities in this city and beyond. “Our new South Asia Gallery, Belonging Gallery and Collections Reimagined space are a few amazing examples of how institutions like this one can start to be honest about and demystify their colonial legacies,” says Chloe Cousins, who has started in the new role. Find out more and plan your visit.
☀️ This week’s weather
You might have noticed it’s pretty hot outside: temperatures will hit 30C today, and the heatwave will continue throughout this week. Stay cool and take care as there’s a risk of thunderstorms.
Tuesday 🌤️ Dry & breezy with long spells of sunshine. Max 28C.
Wednesday ☀️ Dry, warm & mostly sunny. Light winds. Max 27C.
Thursday ☀️Dry, warm & mostly sunny. Max 27C.
Friday ☀️ Dry, calm & sunny. Max 27C.
Weekend Remaining dry and mostly sunny with temperatures in the mid-twenties.
You can find the latest forecast at Manchester Weather on Facebook — daily forecasts are published at 6.15am.
The big story: Manchester rules European football again
Top line: Manchester City fans are descending on the city centre for tonight’s open top bus parade to celebrate the club’s first ever treble. City beat Inter Milan 1-0 in Saturday’s Champions League final in Istanbul, securing the treble (that means winning the Champions League, FA Cup and Premier League in one season, for the uninitiated). It’s the biggest footballing achievement in this city since United won the treble in 1999 and you can now expect years of squabbling between reds and blues in the city about whose treble was better.
The winning goal was scored by midfield maestro Rodri, who can sometimes be spotted in one of The Mill’s favoured city centre cafes, Pot Kettle Black. Manager Pep Guardiola is also a regular in these parts, especially at his King Street restaurant Tast Catala.
The parade: This evening’s parade begins at 6.30pm on Deansgate, at the junction with Liverpool Road. It will end at the corner of Princess Street and Portland Street. Transport for Greater Manchester has the whole route, and says: “The entrance to the parade stage viewing area will be accessible via Oxford Street and Portland Street from 5pm. Screens will also be in place on Oxford Street, Chepstow Street and Portland Street showing all the action on stage. A player presentation will then take place from 7.30pm until 8.15pm on Oxford Street, close to the junction with Chepstow Street.”
Context: Trebles are exceedingly rare — it has only happened ten times in the history of European football. United are the only other English team to win a treble (football fans argue about lesser trebles won by the likes of Liveprool, but we won’t get into that) back in 1999, when City were fighting to get out of Division 2. This weekend’s Champions League win illustrates the remarkable resurgence of City, who on top of being kings of Europe have now won five of the last six domestic league titles playing football the like of which this country has arguably never seen.
The money: City’s spectacular rise has been funded by vast riches from the United Arab Emirates. Bought by Sheikh Mansour’s Abu Dhabi United Group in 2018, the club has now achieved the ownership’s biggest goal of winning the Champions League. But there are major questions about City’s finances and whether the club cheated in order to gain an unfair advantage over other clubs.
The club faces 115 charges from the Premier League about alleged violations of financial rules.
They include not disclosing how much managers were being paid by using secret contracts in order to get around “fair play” rules. It is contesting the claims.
Increased scrutiny: City’s treble — and the inability of any other club to come near them at the moment — means more attention is being focused on the club’s business operations. As the Athletic’s football writer Adam Crafton put it on Twitter: “Manchester City’s players & coaching team deserve huge credit for extraordinary success. So too do their recruitment team. But if now is not the time to question the how behind it, then when is?”
Bottom line: The City fans swarming into town right now for tonight’s parade won’t be reading longform journalism on the Athletic or thinking about financial irregularities. Their club has reached the pinnacle of football and currently seems unstoppable. With United reviving under Erik Ten Hag and London teams seemingly incapable of winning trebles, Manchester is now the undisputed world capital of football. Cheers to that.
Your Mill briefing
The leadership of Rochdale Council is accused of keeping a sexual harassment complaint made against its sitting mayor from colleagues and the wider public. The Sunday Telegraph reported that allegations of inappropriate conduct were made against Ali Ahmed in February but were sat on so the leading Labour group could get through the local election “free from the taint of scandal”. Mill readers might find that story familiar — we recently reported that the same council delayed an investigation into allegations made against Shakil Ahmed, the borough’s current deputy mayor, with insiders again suspecting this was for electoral reasons (the investigation began soon after the local election). Insiders are furious at council leader Neil Emmott, who they accuse of prioritising the reputations of colleagues and essentially running “a boys’ club”.
Salford is the most popular destination for Hong Kongers in the UK. It follows the launch of the British National Overseas visa scheme in 2021 — which offers an escape route from the oppressive national security law imposed on Hong Kong last year. In the past three years, 973 new National Insurance numbers have been issued to Hong Kongers in Salford and Eccles, considerably more than other constituency.
Metrolink services struggled with cancellations over the weekend after overhead lines were damaged by a thunderstorm. It coincided with the glut of events running over the weekend, such as Parklife Festival and Soccer Aid at Old Trafford. Councillor Pat Karney said: "Of all the times for this to happen, it is just so unlucky and disappointing.
Home of the week
A lovely two-bedroom open plan apartment in Hyde, with a spiral staircase leading up to a cosy mezzanine and two balconies facing plenty of green space. It’s on the market for £235,000.
Our favourite reads
The Light, an “alternative” newspaper that prints 10,000 copies a month and is associated with spreading conspiracy theories, has links to the far right, a BBC investigation can reveal. The editor Darren Nesbit, who is based near Manchester, grew The Light into a focal point of anti-lockdown conspiracy theories during the pandemic, sharing misleading claims about vaccines as well as arguing that 9/11 terror attacks were an attempt by the government to control our lives. He also gave a platform to a blogger called Lasha Darkmoon, who says that people should be able to question the Holocaust.
Greenheys Remembered — The Manchester Meteor
Greenheys Estate, the concrete jungle in Hulme that was demolished in the 1970s to make way for new council estates, was more than the sum of its parts, according to ex residents who came together at a recent meetup to share photos and memories. We hear particularly from Liz, who left when she was six and remembers stables for horses, goats, chickens and paying the doctor with eggs. “With some TLC they could have been saved,” she said. “They didn’t need razing to the ground and when they did, they took far more than just bricks”.
What happened to Liverpool’s five Banksys? — The Liverpool Post
Over in Liverpool, our sister publication’s new star reporter Abi Whistance just published a great story about street art that’s disappeared and been sold to overseas buyers. It begins, as all great stories do, with a secret society of supervillain artists. “They believe — unsurprisingly — that such works are, by definition, intended for the street. It’s an egalitarian ethos; art should belong to the people, and pieces etched into the walls of a city should stay there rather than being sold for the benefit of champagne-swigging art dealers.”
Our to do list
🌱 Before we get into our usual recommendations, we wanted to highlight the first instalment of Green Island Festival this weekend, a three part series of day festivals in Hulme Garden Centre showcasing the North’s rising talent. The organisers describe it as “a festival stripped back to its most authentic form, with community at its core.” Tickets are still available for this Saturday night, with the second and third parts in July and September.
🎹 The Blues Kitchen are hosting a night of blues, rhythm, soul and bourbon cocktails. On another roasting hot evening, this might be the closest we can come to an authentic night in the American Deep South. Book a table here.
🎭 Over at HOME, The Rest of Our Lives is a joyful show blending theatre, cabaret, circus and dance that offers a blueprint for living happily into middle-age. It’s performed by George Orange and Jo Fong, two international artists with 100 years of life experience between them. Book here.
📚 The Instituto Cervantes is celebrating Benengeli 2023, the international week of literature in Spain, with a roundtable dedicated to discussing epic narratives in contemporary Latin American literature. Tickets here.
🎶 If you need some respite from the intense heat, there’s a night of relaxing ambient, minimalist compositions by the electronic artists Adela Mede and Dialect at the Anthony Burgess Centre. Tickets here.
🏃 There’s a free book talk from fell runner and writer Sabrina Verjee at the lovely indie bookshop Rare Mags in Stockport. Verjee will be discussing endurance, determination and breaking world records. Reserve a spot here.
🎸 Californian psychedelic rock band Mt. Joy is performing a relaxed gig at Band on the Wall. Their style is described as “hazy” and “sun kissed and soulful”. The perfect way to start the weekend early. Tickets here.