How Manchester City Adapted On-And-Off The Pitch To Find Success In A Covid-19 Year

  • A dramatic new approach to operations was needed to overcome the challenges of COVID-19
  • City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne speaks of the unique experience playing in front of empty stadiums revealing “We’ve missed our fans so much”
  • City and its partners pivoted to new digital strategies to deliver value and enhance experiences for supporters
  • On the pitch, City defied a relentless season with new logistical challenges to find a way to play dominating and beautiful football

Yesterday, City captain Fernandinho put the seal on the Club’s record-breaking season, following a final day 5-0 win over Everton to lift the Premier League trophy for the fifth time in ten seasons. Yet, while the previous four titles had been played out against a vibrant backdrop of home support, the unique context of COVID-19 meant this was a victory unlike any other.

On the pitch, this was a campaign underpinned by the core first-team themes of reinvention, resilience and teamwork. Coaches and players adapted to combine new and old methods of playing, as they demonstrated physical and mental resilience to defy logistical challenges to emerge as a truly united squad.

The physical and emotional challenges presented by the pandemic meant that nearly every aspect of the Club’s operation changed beyond recognition, with new approaches required to maintain connection with fans, drive value with commercial partners and importantly, deliver on the pitch.

With fans sadly missing from the Etihad Stadium all year, the Club sought to maintain that connection with a relentless flow of content to keep supporters as close as possible. The dedicated ‘Cityzens at Home’ web portal provided fans of all ages with activities to stay engaged and active during lockdown, including exclusive exercise advise given by Pep Guardiola’s first team backroom staff.

City captain Fernandinho put the seal on the Club’s record-breaking season, following a final day 5-0 win over Everton.

Fan-produced content was championed across Club channels and images of supporters were displayed in the tunnel and on stadium screens to ensure they remained front-of-mind for City’s players, while investment in new camera technologies allowed the Club to film players remotely and broadcast exclusive access.

Commercially, the absence of traditional assets such as tickets, hospitality, player appearances and fan events meant the playbook for the Club’s commercial partners needed to adapt overnight. Together there was a pivot to new digital opportunities, including virtual player appearances in homes during lockdown, while City delivered more partner-branded content across its social media platforms than any other club, which delivered huge engagement and exposure for partners.

Cisco’s WeBex solutions were integral to player training and fan content series, while Intel’s True View product provided an enhanced broadcast experience for fans at a time when it was needed more than ever. Official club partner PUMA delivered virtual kit launches and fan competitions, while the Midea Home Challenge kept fans entertained at home during lockdown.

City midfielder, Kevin de Bruyne, said: “It’s been a unique experience playing in front of empty stadiums. We’ve missed our fans so much. All our usual routines and preparation have been impacted. We’re really proud that as a team we’ve worked together and been able to overcome all those challenges. We all hope that after this season we never have to play without our fans again – it just isn’t the same without them and we were so motivated to give them something to celebrate”.

“We are in such a fortunate position. We know how hard the past year has been for people all over the world. If we can deliver on the pitch and bring a smile to people’s faces then it makes it all worth the effort.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here