Abu Dhabi: Manchester City FC has hit the 30,000 milestone mark for membership of the official Sky Blue UAE membership program.
Sky Blue, a partnership between Etihad Airways and Manchester City, has been such a phenomenon that manager Manuel Pellegrini has spoken of the “incredible passion” shown by fans in the UAE.
Since the launch of Sky Blue in in late 2011, UAE-based supporters have taken advantage of the fantastic membership benefits as well as Etihad Airways flight deals to Manchester – with more than 5,000 making that round trip.
A particular attraction has been the big UEFA Champions League matches at the Etihad Stadium which City have been part of in recent years and will be again next season.
“Sky Blue membership in the UAE aims to connect fans in the UAE directly with the club – and we are delighted with the results,” said Olivier Turkel, Head of Commercial MENA, Manchester City FC.
“They are all very much part of the City family now and the FanZone events we have organised in Abu Dhabi have shown us just how much the club means to them.
“In addition we have had many fans coming to Manchester from Abu Dhabi as well as all corners of the world which is very special and those bonds just keep getting stronger.”
Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, added: “Among the many successes of the partnership between Etihad Airways and Manchester City FC, the Sky Blue story is one that is close to all our hearts.
“Sky Blue is a unique program for Etihad Airways and Manchester City as it is focused on the Club’s fans in Abu Dhabi and across the UAE. The way it has grown in popularity is testament to how much the fans have embraced this membership program which is fantastic to see.
“It’s also been great to see so many fans taking up the chance to fly with Etihad Airways to watch the team play in Manchester. We continue to explore new opportunities to make Sky Blue even more attractive to even more fans of MCFC.”
Sky Blue UAE led the way in organising a series of FanZone events in Abu Dhabi in recent seasons with hundreds of people gathering at Zayed Sports City to cheer on the team.
Twice they have come together on the outdoor pitch at the complex to see the side win the English Premier League trophy with further victories in the FA Cup and The Capital One Cup.
Star players have also met Sky Blue members for special autograph and Q&A sessions – often bringing the silverware with them to go on display.
“It was pretty overwhelming to have so many fans coming to see us when we have been in Abu Dhabi and personally for me it was a very special trip,” said midfielder Samir Nasri.
“On one evening I went to a sports shop to meet supporters and they were so passionate and loyal – that is just something I was not expecting so many miles away from Manchester.”
Sky Blue members also benefit from a complimentary Etihad Stadium tour in Manchester, and discounts on MCFC merchandise in Abu Dhabi’s official Manchester City shop at Marina Mall.
One of the most popular benefits of membership is the significant saving on Etihad Airways flights to Manchester which will soon include all Etihad Airways flights. These new benefits will be launched before the start of the 2015/16 season.
There are also frequent exclusive competitions and prizes for members that include trips to match day experiences at the Etihad Stadium, as well as City merchandise and Etihad Guest miles.