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Manchester City Supporters Celebrate Team's Title in Phoenix

The soccer world revolved around England on Sunday morning as Manchester City beat Brighton & Hove Albion, 4-1, to clinch the Premier League title.

In Phoenix, dozens of Valley-based Man City supporters, known as the Desert Blues, gathered at 7:00 a.m. Arizona time in their powder blue jerseys and scarves to cheer their team to victory at the Kettle Black Kitchen & Pub in Downtown Phoenix.

Jimmy Culleton owns Kettle Black. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, he's been a longtime Man City supporter. Because of the time difference, sometimes the team plays as early as 4:30 a.m., and regardless, he opens his restaurant up for watch parties.

"It’s not like we’re making a ton of money out of this," Culleton said. "It’s just for the love of the game, to be honest.” 

State law says bars cannot serve alcohol until 6:00 a.m. Culleton said his pub doesn't usually open until 10:00 A.M., so some loyal supporters, including on this day, bring donuts and other breakfast foods to munch on during the match, alongside a beer or two from the bar.

“I think in the long run, people that come here for the Man City games are kind of associated with the restaurant now," Culleton said, "and it’s the fact that they’ll come in for dinner on a Friday night."

Desert Blues club treasurer Matthew Hayes said there are about 100 members in the group, which began about six years ago. 

Besides Sunday's meet-up being special due to the circumstances of the match, it hit home for Hayes, who says he'll be moving from Arizona to Bulgaria soon.

“For me," Hayes said, "seeing this many people in a pub for such a special occasion, it brings tears to my eyes. I love it.”

Sunday's match clinched Manchester City's fourth Premier League title, all in the last eight seasons. The Desert Blues will meet again on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. at Kettle Black for the club's appearance in the FA Cup Final, the championship of a tournament involving over 700 British soccer clubs.

After spending seven months as a news intern for KJZZ, Matt Kling returned in January 2019 as a general assignment reporter, mainly on the weekends.Kling’s radio career started when he joined Blaze Radio as freshman at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School. At Blaze Radio he has served as a host, producer and assistant production director. He’s also interned for KTAR before joining KJZZ in 2018.Kling also has extensive work in television production, working as a director, technical director and other positions for Cronkite News and Arizona PBS. Today, Kling serves as a newscast producer for Cronkite News. He anticipates graduation from the Cronkite School in May 2019.When he’s not working, you can find Kling out and about on the town, or in his downtown Phoenix apartment watching his favorite Philadelphia sports teams.