This is a page where I express my thoughts in more detail, sometimes leaving it open for you to discuss. Feel free to contact me about them if they've particularly hit a nerve.

If you want to catch up on previous thoughts on this page, then you may want to take a look at this lot:

Thoughts 4.31 to 4.42
Thoughts 4.21 to 4.30
Thoughts 4.11 to 4.20
Thoughts 4.01 to 4.10
Thoughts 2.21 to 3.07
Thoughts 2.11 to 2.20
Thoughts 2.01 to 2.10

Thought 5.02: Bruised, Back and Blue

It was a tough decision to make, but after the Super League withdrawals from last night and the six Premier League clubs admitting that they made a mistake, and with Manchester City being one of the first to withdraw, I'm back, although bruised from the last few days' events, and a Man City Blue fan again. However, my support for the club's board, understandably, has taken a suitable bruising and I still feel hurt and betrayed by their actions, which still for me are a direct contrast to their original statements of how they wanted to fully involve the fans when the takeover happened in 2008. In addition, last night's minimal statement didn't offer a hint of an apology, just a factual "we have withdrawn".

The players and Pep Guardiola as manager showed much more affinity with the fans, and for this we should all be thankful. Pep's "It's not a sport" speech detailing how competition should be open for all and how it's not sport if you don't have that really did hit home, and the players, originally silenced by the board, soon took to social media on the withdrawal news with the likes of Kyle Walker, Raheem Sterling, Kevin de Bruyne and Aymeric Laporte being vocal. As it transpired, it was captain Fernandinho who took up the mantle and basically with others around him told Ferran Soriano where to stick it. And quite right too. The players and Pep should go up in any estimation, along with the Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, and their players, notably Jordan Henderson and former Blue James Milner. They all deserve praise.

As it also transpired, the players were kept in the dark about the Super League plans too. That to me smacked of ignorance and hypocrisy at the highest level. Surely anyone with a modicum of sense would realise that you can't have a team playing without any players to play the game, right? It also showed a real sense of cloak and dagger behind closed doors between the twelve club boards involved, most likely having some form of online Zoom meeting shrouded in secrecy. It's also this approach which quite rightly is prompting fans, most notably of Manchester United and Liverpool with their American owners, wanting more action and wanting their boards to, in the words of one Liverpool fan, "do one."

The damage to City's reputation is there for all to see, and this could and should have been avoided. How good would we as fans have felt if on the Sunday the club's board had instead announced that we weren't going to join any Super League even if approached, and that a belief in fair competition was the aim that is underlined by both the players and fans? That would have been brilliant. It shouldn't have gone to the point where the disgust shown by the fans (and rightly so of course) and the banners simply stating "traitors" around the Etihad Stadium were a catalyst for them to realise that the room of the fans had been read spectacularly wrong to say the least. Surely any consultation with the fans prior to Sunday's announcement would have clearly been easy to work out that the answer to "would you like to see a Super League" was an unequivocal no.

I noted that Ferran Soriano had written to the fans in an email. But why not put the full text of that on the club's website as well, giving everyone the chance to read what was written? Surely it would have been a much more encompassing way of having the statement read for all. I've read the statement, and clearly there at least is a realisation of a mistake, but, and here's the but in this, they still believed that the Super League was in the best interests of the club. How would you know, Ferran? You didn't ask us. It then continues: "However, in making that choice we failed to remind ourselves of the unbreakable link between the passion of our fans and the right to have the opportunity to earn success.. " which is a reminder to the board that as passionate as we are, we can remember when we were in the League One days and battled back, and were proud of the fact we did it fairly.

The positive at least is that the board realises that the trust has been broken, and it is a trust that is going to have to be earned by them - not the fans. That is important. I for one will need to be convinced by the board's actions over the next few years in order to regain the trust, and it's an undoing of all the work around the local community close to the Etihad that has happened - the sixth form college, leisure centre, regeneration and so on. I think the key thing here is to differentiate between the players and the board - the players I can get behind, the board, maybe not so much.

So I'm back, but as I said, somewhat battered and bruised, but blue nonetheless. I can only hope for a better future, but let's not underestimate this: if City had stayed in the Super League, then I would have gone, and never returned, as a matter of principle.

Thought 5.01: Why I Was No Longer a Manchester City Fan

So, as of last night, Sunday 18th April, I was no longer a Manchester City fan.

This may be a surprise to those who know me, as ever since I was old enough to basically say a few words I had a good influence on my Mum's side of the family that the team from Maine Road were the one that I would be supporting. My roots go much deeper than some: my Grandad used to work for Finglands Coaches in Rusholme, who would drive the City team coach to away games, and later he would become a steward in the North Stand at Maine Road, ensuring everyone got to their seats and was able to enjoy the game from behind the goal. Very occasionally, I'd also be able to go in with him as a guest and sample the atmosphere of football from a safe place, until my uncle started taking me to games as well.

I was hooked, it was imperfect but somehow better because of it. The club were right at the heart of a dense housing community, the lads were mostly local, and indeed at the time Moss Side resident Alex Williams was the goalkeeper (one of the first black goalkeepers in the top division as well, so breaking ground there) - so it felt much more community, much more family, and certainly with the creation of the likes of the Junior Blues, and having regular meetings in the social club next to the ground. Memories I had were of peeping through the fencing at Platt Lane to watch the team train. It was for me my local team, especially as my family were living in a council house around 500 metres from Maine Road, and would often walk up to Platt Lane to see what was going on.

With those imperfections come the ups and downs that the competitive but fair football league pyramid allowed. If you won, you were rewarded, if you played badly, you could have an FA Cup shock result, be relegated to a lower division, and so on. In the 80s promotion and relegation were part of me and my City diet - I was there when Raddy Antic scored in 1983 and David Pleat ran on the pitch - a memory that was upsetting. I was also there for the 5-1 demolition of Charlton Athletic to go back up, and couldn't get a ticket for Valley Parade at Bradford for the 1989 promotion, but was determined to get my own season ticket to stand on the Kippax and watch the boys in blue play.

It's all part of the history I had - a sense that success wouldn't last forever and failure was around the corner. Inevitably, after the Premier League started, City did struggle a bit at times, but had managed to survive in 1994-95 with an epic win at Blackburn. However, the season after City were awful, but, as loyal fans do, you stuck with it, barking out to attack when for some reason that they were holding the ball in the corner whilst drawing 2-2 with Liverpool and needing another goal to stay up. That loyalty remained even when losing 5-2 at Stoke in 1998 to go down to what's now League One, the third tier of English football. Let me just say that again: Manchester City in the third tier, only twenty three years ago.

Of course the competitive league and fair system meant if the team was good enough, they would find their way back - and they did after an epic play off win, almost as dramatic as the Champions League final Manchester United had won a few days earlier, such was the gulf between the two teams at the time. Another three seasons followed of promotion in 2000, relegation in 2001 and promotion in 2002 before that was the last one. Yet, despite those imperfections, City were being well managed at board level by David Bernstein. He got it. He understood the fans, and the importance of the team. So when the opportunity came up to potentially move to the City of Manchester Stadium in 2003, which the club would long lease off the council, the fans were consulted (note this.) The fans voted, and the move was agreed.

Of course eventually with takeovers, money came in, the club could catch up in affording so called "big name" players, although the signing of Robinho was one dodgy amount of money too many, and eventually this led to a first FA Cup win in 42 years, and I treasured every moment of that, especially the semi final win against United, which my uncle and I were able to watch together as a nice moment of being able to repay him back for all the times he took me, such was the loyalty. And having my friend with me as we both saw the Agüerooooooooo moment in 2012 was a special feeling and one that now, unfortunately, has somewhat of a more sour taste in the mouth because of what was to come.

You see, boards and directors of the six clubs involved, the club is nothing without fans. The fans stick by the team through thick and thin, through the different owners, the mass protests at Maine Road to try and get former player Francis Lee to own the club, to the daft decision making to get rid of some managers who were doing pretty well. The fans, crucially, were the lifeblood when the club was struggling on the pitch in 1998-99, and helped to carry the team up, doing what they could to be the support when the club was at its lowest ebb. Those who are real fans, and who know the history, and not the glory hunters from abroad who have no idea of City or its history, or why we as a wider football family support other clubs in their times of mourning and grief. Why we remember 11th May 1985, 15th April 1989 and 6th February 1958 to name but three dates of football history and significance.

As not just fans of a club but also fans of football, you stick by those in their hours of need: plenty of us were backing the Hull City AFC supporters in their fight against the board and their proposed renaming to Hull Tigers, wiping away the history of the club and the Allams attempting to rewrite that history. None of it. I supported the fans' fight, because I knew that if one club could do it, so could others. Similarly, many of us donated in vain to help keep local side Bury afloat before they went under, and as part of that football family, fans look out for each other - City and United fans joining together to get foodbank donations and pressuring both clubs into doing more.

Of course what the statement last night meant from the club boards was abundantly clear: we own the club, we'll do what we want with it. No consultation with the fans who are the lifeblood of the game what they might think - just a statement silently and craftily put out when most of us were gripped into the next instalment of Line of Duty. Maybe we should get AC-12 on the case and get some of those board members up before a court of being completely bent, setting up their own OCG as a fixed cartel where there's no relegation and no indication of how anyone who rightfully on merit would have a chance to play the teams either.

Last night's announcement of the European Super League, and Manchester City's confirmed involvment in that, was for me the straw that broke the camel's back. I had strongly opposed the idea of B-teams being involved in the lower leagues several years ago, and had my worries how UEFA might have set an example to the club when investigating any wrongdoing (and of course, City had been banned for irregularities which were then quashed on appeal, allowing the club to compete in the 2020-21 Champions League and be able to get to the semi-final.) But this feels a whole different level of wrong. It feels like a betrayal.

It's a betrayal of those like my Grandad who gave their time for free to be a steward at the club when money was tight. It's a betrayal to those who have invested time and energy into going to matches which were run in a fair competition and pyramid system, only for this history to be wiped away at the signing of a document. It's a betrayal by those six clubs, including City, to all of those other teams throughout the whole pyramid system, who want the fair chance to be able to compete at the highest level. And indeed a betrayal to every single football fan, not just in England, but in Europe and worldwide.

So, Khaldoon al Mubrarak, Ferran Sorriano, Sheikh Mansour et al. A word of advice. Reverse this decision, or leave the club in the hands of those who don't just think about money but actually respect and understand the fans. Considering Mansour's statement at the takeover in 2008, which feels hollow now, read: "we will absolutely spend time listening to you the fans about what you think about the future of the club. We are very aware that without you there would not be a club to buy and your voice will be heard by the organisation at the highest level."

So that's it. I want a club that cares about the fans. That was taken away. My club was taken away. My blood bleeds no longer blue, but my heart has been ripped out.