The January transfer window remains open for a few more days, but will Manchester City splash the cash to help land silverware on four fronts…or will they wait for Pep Guardiola’s arrival, before embarking on an unprecedented summer spending spree?
Manuel Pellegrini’s squad has been riddled with injuries this season, and yet they’re just three points off the top of the Premier League, one win away from a League Cup final, through to the Champions League knockout stages – as Group winners for the first time – and the bookies’ favourites to win the FA Cup.
So are reinforcements actually needed between now and May?
Superstar arrivals would be top of the wish lists of most City fans once Pep takes over from Manuel Pellegrini in June.
Fanciful notions or fantastic reality, City would face stiff competition from domestic and European rivals for key signings like Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba, but the clamour for those all important signatures doesn’t end once the player is pictured wearing City’s colours…far from it!
Whether it be new players, established favourites or rising stars, City supporters are no different from fans at other clubs when it comes to obtaining signed sports memorabilia.
Team shirts, monogrammed boots, posters, gloves, photos, flags, Captain’s armbands – you name it – if Aguero, Silva, Kompany, Hart, Pellegrini or any of City’s players have signed an item, it immediately rockets in value, both on a sentimental and financial scale.
To the diehard fan it becomes a ‘priceless’ possession, a piece of sky blue heaven.
The problem is the sports memorabilia market is awash with crooks who prey on the innocence and gullibility of fans, desperate to have something bearing the signature of their idol.
A prime example is convicted conman Christian Spencer Cassidy. He tried to sell a Manchester City shirt, allegedly signed by the City squad, for £200.
Anyone who knows anything about the signatures of the City players would instantly identify it as fake.
Having been convicted of an £86,000 fraud selling fake sports memorabilia on eBay, Cassidy moved from Towyn, Conway in his native Wales, to Manchester, registering a string of companies at 4, Tottenham Drive in Wythenshawe M23 9WZ. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-east-wales-16260902
He now goes under the name of Chris Spencer, owner of Premier Sports Memorabilia, on the social media business networking site LinkedIn. He has another account – again in the name of Chris Spencer – this time as a Licensed Football Agent with both the English and Ukranian Football Associations.
Cassidy continues with his fraudulent activities from Odessa in the Ukraine and is presently the subject of complaints lodged with Action Fraud – the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre. (If you feel you have been sold fake goods by a fraudulent sports memorabilia dealer you can contact Action Fraud on 0330 3030800 between 9am-6pm Mon-Fri)
Whereas Cassidy is one of the worst examples of an unscrupulous sports memorabilia cheat, there are, thankfully, companies who act with integrity, honesty and transparency.
Bury-based Allstarsignings Ltd are passionate when it comes to guaranteeing the 100% authenticity of any items they sell to customers.
Allstarsignings told Read But Never Red that fake memorabilia is a huge problem – one that Trading Standards do not have the resources to tackle adequately.
“If someone is selling counterfeit Rolex watches or Louis Vutton handbags it’s easy to see they’re fake once the goods are seized. That isn’t the case with signed memorabilia, it’s much more complex and onerous to prove a signature is a forgery.
“Some fraudsters are clever – they have one genuine item with proof of that particular signing – but then use it as ‘evidence’ to deceive buyers and sell loads of fakes.”
Another factor that often plays into the hands of the criminals is the mindset – the naivety – of some buyers.
“People want what they’re buying to be right. They’re so keen for an item to be ‘genuine’ that they try and convince themselves, without checking things out properly.”
Allstarsignings recommend you consider the following advice before parting with your money:
- Certificate of Authenticity is important, but is only as good as the company issuing it, therefore if the signature is fake, a COA doesn’t make it real.
- Only buy from companies who have carried out signings with the star, this way you can ask for signing date and locations.
- Make sure the item is accompanied with photographic evidence of the Celebrity signing and that it is relevant to the item you are purchasing. We have never been refused this at any of our signings.
- Research a company before buying anything from them. Many companies selling fakes have signatures from all of the hot sports stars, including multi signed shirts from all of the top teams. If they are selling all of these “Dream products” without real provenance then don’t be afraid to ask for proof of signing, dates & locations.
- All our items are accompanied by photo proof and many now have video proof on our website www.allstarsignings.com or YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCM03TaAARFkVvyZOdmoRUhA
Whether it be Sheikh Mansour investing hundreds of millions of pounds on new player signings, or the ‘man in the street’ wanting a City shirt signed by Sergio, both want the same thing – value for money.
Let’s hope there’s a thriving market in Lionel Messi signed Manchester City shirts this summer…now that would be the real deal!
By David Walker
With special thanks to Andy & Les at Allstarsignings Ltd, and also to fellow Manchester City fan, Evelyn Spence, for her invaluable assistance in researching the life and crimes of Christian Spencer Cassidy.