Non-league minnows Sheffield FC have missed out on hosting the richest team in world football.
Manchester City, who were purchased by a super-rich Abu-Dhabi group in 2008 and have since spent hundreds of millions of pounds in a bid to fast-track their pursuit of global success, were due to visit the modest Dronfield ground as part of the upcoming pre-season.
However, after a clash of fixtures in their pre-season schedule, City have now pulled out of the game, which was originally set for July 30.
Like many lower-league clubs, Sheffield FC are struggling for revenue and plans to move to Olive Grove had to be re-assessed when potential World Cup funding disappeared.
In April, the club announced that they were to auction the original ‘Rules of Football’ which dated back from 1858 - something that has not gone down well with some of their supporters.
The Rules will be sold by Sothebys on July 14.
Parting with the original document was a ‘tough but ‘necessary’ step, according to the chairman of Sheffield FC, Richard Tims, who still aims to develop the club’s facilities and secure its future as the home of world football.
The Qatari Royal Family are said to be determined to secure the historical document.
While times are hard, Sheffield club secretary Stephen Hall believes that a future money-spinning meeting with City may still be on the cards.
“It’s disappointing that they’ve had to cancel,” he said.
“However they have said that they’ll try and send the development squad later on in the season if we can find a suitable date.”
Had the fixture gone ahead, it would have been a lucrative pay day for the world’s oldest club, with spectators hopeful of seeing a couple of Premier League aristocrats among a team of skilled, young hopefuls.
Sheffield open their pre-season with a clash against Sheffield United’s first team on Saturday, July 9, before hosting fellow Yorkshire clubs Huddersfield on July 14 and Sheffield Wednesday 10 days later.
The game against United will be Danny Wilson’s first in charge of the Blades and it is expected to draw a crowd of around 2,000.
Hall added: “Obviously it’s Danny’s first game in charge and we are expecting a healthy crowd. I can definitely see it being close to a full house.”