On Thursday 24 September, 2009, Conference North side Hyde were wound up by the High Court. The Tigers, who had been existence for 90 years, seemed to have reached the end of the road, the culmination of years of financial trouble. A successful appeal against the winding-up order secured the club’s short-term future, but, as the season drew to a close, the club’s longer-term future appeared less rosy.
All of this changed on Monday 14 June, when Hyde announced a ‘unique and exciting partnership’ with Manchester City. In exchange for a ‘substantial cash injection’, rumoured to be around £250,000, City will play their youth and reserve games at Ewan Fields and will also advertise their ‘City in the Community’ scheme on the front of Hyde’s shirts. As a result of the deal, Ewan Fields now looks like this:
Yes, that’s right, Hyde’s main stand now has a bright, shiny Manchester City badge on it and Hyde’s shirts will now advertise another football club. On the one hand, the club have surely lost its identity and sold its soul to survive. On the other hand, as many users of Hyde’s messageboard point out, the deal puts the club on a sounder financial footing than it has enjoyed for years and, if City move on at the end of the deal, Hyde will be left with excellent facilities, including a new clubhouse, to match their traditionally quality playing surface. Whilst this columnist tends to believe it would have been better to reform at a lower level and maintain independence, the ever-increasing polarisation of professional and semi-professional football in this country means that maybe this is the best practical solution? It will certainly be interesting to see if other clubs follow suit. As someone whose natural instinct is to rail against the ever-growing dominance of the top Premiership clubs, though, I do hope it is not the case.