Manchester launches 100-day countdown for National Football Museum opening

By Dean Wilkins

The National Football Museum is opening in Manchester’s Urbis on July 6 after a 100-day countdown launched today.

It was originally due to open last autumn, but the launch was hit by a series of delays. More than 140,000 international football objects, works of art, and photographs will make up the collection.

The museum was previously based at Preston North End before plans for the journey to Manchester were announced in 2009, in order to attract 400,000 annual visitors.

National Football Museum Director Kevin Moore said: “We are delighted to announce the date for opening the new National Football Museum. We’re proud to be opening an international visitor attraction in the heart of this footballing city, and particularly welcome the arrival of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.”

He added: “Our new museum will provide visitors with a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the most impressive collection of football exhibits ever assembled.”

The 30-mile move received criticism from some of football’s biggest names, including the museum’s president Sir Bobby Charlton, as many hoped to see it stay at its former home.

However, Manchester City Council have welcomed the free exhibition and dedicated £2million of council taxpayers’ money to the museum for the next ten years.

Items in the museum include a shirt from the world’s first international match in 1872, the 1966 World Cup Final ball, and the Jules Rimet trophy, the original World Cup which Brazil was given after winning it three times.

Argentina legend Diego Maradona’s shirt from the infamous ‘Hand of God’ World Cup quarter final defeat of England in 1986 will also be on display.

The museum also announced the arrival of the European Cup Winners Cup, lifted by City in 1970 and United in 1991, to Manchester.

Former City manager and Everton hero Howard Kendall and World Cup Final referee Howard Webb helped to launch the countdown today.

Webb will hand over his referee shirt worn during the 2010 World Cup Final clash between Spain and Holland which saw the Spaniards crowned world champions.

Councillor Mike Amesbury, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure for Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester is already the most visited English city outside London. The National Football Museum will add to our existing range of visitor attractions and further strengthen the city as a destination of choice.

“Mention Manchester to anyone around the world and one of the first things they will think of is football, so it’s the perfect location for a must-see shrine to the global game. Whichever team you support, and even if you only have a passing interest in football, the museum is sure to be a winning attraction.”

Paul Simpson, managing director of Visit Manchester said: “This world-class cultural attraction will be a welcome addition for the city’s excellent tourism industry which currently generates £5.8bn for the local economy and supports 77,000 full time equivalent jobs across the region. We wish the museum every success.”


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