Pannick on the streets of London: Man City fans’ lawyer banner explained
Manchester City clinched a defiant 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Sunday after a turbulent week off the field for the Premier League champions.
Last Monday, City were charged with 115 breaches of Premier League competition rules, with the allegations mostly relating to allegations of false accounting which formed the basis of the case UEFA brought against the club in 2018.
The club have denied wrongdoing, with Pep Guardiola revving up amid the recent controversy to devour his staff, and City fans at the Etihad Stadium responded in kind, from taunting the Premier League anthem before kick-off to the wordy Support while her team ran in three goals before halftime.
But there was a new and striking aspect to matchday in Manchester. A new banner hung above the second row of the South Stand celebrating the man who has reportedly been appointed head of City’s right-back against the Premier League. “PANNICK ON THE STREETS OF LONDON,” boomed it.
A sad indictment of the modern football fan base? Gallows humor about a pun rooted in Mancun culture? All of the above? Sporting News will try to explain.
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Who is Man City’s solicitor Lord Pannick?
As revealed last week by industry publication The Lawyer, Manchester City will hire Blackstone Chambers’ lawyer, Lord David Pannick KC, to lead the club’s defense if the charges against the Premier League are brought before an independent commission.
It’s something of a return for Pannick, who represented City when the two-year ban on UEFA competitions was lifted in 2020 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Therefore, fans are already familiar with his work.
Oxford-educated Pannick is considered one of the finest lawyers of his generation, and City is far from the only high-profile public case he’s taken on in recent times.
He advised Boris Johnson on the Partygate inquiry into the former British Prime Minister being investigated for breaching his own coronavirus restrictions at his home and government building.
Even when Parliament was adjourned in 2019, Pannick took action against the government before the Supreme Court when Johnson controversially tried to push through his Brexit plans.
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Will Lord Pannick Earn More Than Kevin De Bruyne?
Pannick’s legal expertise does not come cheap, and a striking part of The Lawyer’s article was the comparison between his projected earnings from City and what the club plays to its leading star players.
Pannick reportedly charges around £5,000 an hour for his services, although that figure went as high as £10,000.
If paid at the higher end of that scale, he would make around £400,000 a week.
Kevin De Bryune is City’s top earner and his last contract extension in April 2021 saw the Belgian midfielder earn in the region of £400,000 a week, making him the highest-paid player in the Premier League.
Premier League top scorer Erling Haaland is believed to be making £375,000-a-week after joining City from Borussia Dortmund last year.
Man City’s Lord Pannick banner explained
Apart from the obvious motivations of tribalism in football, none of this really explains why a leading Silk’s name and picture could appear on a banner at a Premier League football ground.
That plays a role here, but there is more to it than that. The banner’s wording evokes the opening line of the song Panic by Manchester band The Smiths, which reached number 11 in the UK Singles Chart in 1986. Pannick lives in England’s capital… the dots really do tie in, don’t they?
Smiths guitarist and songwriter Johnny Marr is a City fan and a frequent player at games. Marr joined the celebrations of City’s players on the pitch after winning the Premier League on the final day of the 2013/14 season and interviewed Guardiola for The Guardian newspaper in 2019.
Manchester’s musical heritage feeds into City and United’s fan culture. At Old Trafford, teams come out of the tunnel for This Is The One by the Stone Roses for every game.
Noel and Liam Gallagher are notoriously outspoken Manchester City fans and banners with various Oasis lyrics have been a feature at matches for some time. Oasis songs also accompany the matchday experience at Etihad Stadium.
City has delved particularly deeply into Manchester’s cultural history in the years since it was taken over by Abu Dhabi. Their 2019-20 away kit was inspired by the renowned nightclub Hacienda.
However, the Pannick banner looks like it was a backer-led move. City fan @Felix6ood seemed to appreciate it over the weekend.
The 1894 Group – which takes its name from the year the city was founded – has also produced several banners that have adorned the South Stand in recent seasons. They worked with the club’s collaboration, although that relationship was cut short in protest when City signed up for the ill-fated European Super League in 2021.
Still, there were definitely indications over the weekend that City and their fans were singing from the same songsheet. Oasis’ Wonderwall was played over the stadium speakers right after the full-time win against Villa. The next track on the playlist? Panic by The Smiths.
It is likely to become an anthem in the club’s fight against a damaging Premier League criminal record. If Pannick doesn’t prevail and City is punished severely, The Smiths have an alternative soundtrack for fans: Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.