Gregg Oldfield, Managing Director of Endemol Sport, believes Manchester City are capable of winning an unpredictable Premier League title race this season.
Endemol Sport and the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) have teamed up to organise the pre-season Dublin Super Cup tournament which will see Roberto Mancini’s City, Celtic, Inter Milan and Airtricity XI - a team selected from the best players from Ireland’s top domestic League - all play at Ireland’s Aviva Stadium this summer.
And Oldfield feels that one of the participating clubs, City, have the ability to capture the league crown this season, but admitted they would need to win their remaining games and hope their title rivals slip up.
Speaking exclusively to FourFourTwo, he said: “I think it’s difficult at the moment as there are eight or nine games left and it’s a very unpredictable league. It’s very close and some of the big teams are losing against some of the bottom clubs.
“I think it’s been a very interesting Premier League this year and City are still pushing and their ambition is to win every game that they’ve got left. So let’s see how they fare at the end of the season. They’re a big side with big aspirations.”
Oldfield revealed he was excited to have City participating in the Super Cup and said Dublin's “passionate fan base” and ideal location were key reasons for why it was chosen to host the tournament.
“One of the key things that drew us to Dublin and the Irish market is what would attract people to other markets in the Middle East and other parts of Eastern Europe - and that’s having a very passionate fan-base,” he said.
“From their [Irelands’s] infrastructure to the location, within two to four hours which really works for most of the European teams when they’re looking at pre-season games, it was our choice.
“Once you mention the word Dublin, most people have an association of great hospitality. They don’t normally see teams of this stature in their own domestic markets so if we price it correctly and it’s over the bank holiday weekend, it’s a good back-drop to creating something that is sustainable.
“The only one you could liken it to would be the Emirates Cup. They’ve done a really good job over the four years and they’ve got a good product but it mainly caters to the Arsenal domestic fan so it’s slightly different to what we’re doing here but it was a good benchmark.
“We built this relationship over 10 years with the FAI so it’s really important that we get the product right because we want people to come back year in and year out and talk about what a great tournament it is. It is very different to some of the tours that other big companies do because they normally go in and never normally go back to that market.”
Oldfield admitted it had been a key part of Endemol Sport’s strategy to involve the likes of City and Celtic in the Super Cup and envisions that the match between the two British clubs will be the “biggest” game of the tournament.
“To have Celtic there was a key part of our strategy as they are effectively the football club for the Irish market. They are coming home for the first time in over 20 years and playing their first team squad. We took Neil Lennon to the launch and they are excited about coming back to Ireland,” he said.
“We feel fans both young and old would love to come and watch Celtic as they watch them every week but never get to see their first team. Then you’ve got two other big teams in Manchester City, who everyone has an eye on as they’ve got some great talent with some more potentially arriving in the summer, and Inter Milan who are the holders of four titles.
“Inter are probably the biggest club in terms of their success but I think the biggest draw is Celtic and Man City. We’re trying to cater for domestic fans and for international fans and media. We want people to watch great football and these are some of the best teams where you will have their elite squads playing in this tournament.”
Following Celtic’s high profile and controversial Old Firm derby game against Rangers recently, Oldfield assured fans that precautions have been put in place to avoid trouble at what he described would be a football “celebration.”
“We’ve taken all of the necessary measures and we work very closely with all of the police, local councils and government agencies. We are also working very extensively with the FAI and the stadium operating company. We take it very seriously in terms of making sure we have a safe environment for everyone.
“The fact is we haven’t got teams from the same city with a rivalry. Hopefully what we’re bringing is more of a celebration.
“It's going to be a great spectacle and great event for the teams and the fans who want to come and take part in the whole day of entertainment."
By Vaishali Bhardwajcomments