Manchester is a city that thrives on football, with two of the world’s biggest clubs at its centre and a vibrant legion of regional sides in the surrounding areas. Shopping and clubbing certainly hold their sway in the city but, more often than not, weekends and weekdays are dominated by the beautiful game. And while the divide of United’s red and City’s blue usually errs on the side of good natured, some establishments undoubtedly lean towards one more than the other - you’ll know when you find one. However, to show our impartiality, the list below is focused on venues that keep things neutral, where a well stocked bar and good atmosphere are a constant, and the screens are HD. And no streaming from dodgy Czechoslovakian websites, either.
Check out our guide to football in Manchester, too.
Manchester football pubs
Located on Oxford Road, adjacent to Manchester Met’s All Saints campus, The Footage is primarily known for its cheap booze and burgers, its karaoke and its big screen football. When the latter two clash during a midweek Champions League fixture, the atmosphere might be a little overwhelming for some. On a Sunday afternoon, it’s hardly a local’s favourite, but the boozy atmosphere is undeniably electric, with a young crowd shaking off their hangovers and getting good-naturedly riled. There are screens of various sizes as far as the eye can see, and a large balcony to oversee the action. And tension.
You can’t turn a corner in the Northern Quarter without encountering a bar, and yet, perhaps owing to its ‘alternative’ roots, live football isn’t screened everywhere. Tib Street Tavern therefore gets particularly popular on weekends, when security are unlikely to admit rowdy groups, stags or hens. Team colours are also not permitted. Once inside, there are plenty of screens to watch most Premiership fixtures, and the atmosphere remains pretty pleasant. If anything here resembles that of its trendier neighbours, it’s the drink prices, but the great variety of craft ales and decent food add to the overall appeal. The Tavern also screens tennis, golf and other international sporting comps.
Another student favourite, offering a more subdued atmosphere than The Footage just up the road. The bar area could probably do with a refurb, but the staff are friendly and the booze is varied and affordable. They also do a great line in delicious homemade pies - for a more authentic matchday experience.
The Green opened as a sort of canal-side sporting mecca, where if the match isn’t going particularly well for your team there are golf simulators, table football and gaming to take your mind of things. Still, the football is the main draw, with a relaxed atmosphere and plenty of space. There are usually up to three matches screened a day, covering internationals, friendlies and whatever else they can find (rugby's popular too). Unlike some other venues, team colours are permitted, and the atmosphere usually remains the right side of rowdy.
Over the canals and into Salford, the New Oxford is the best of a selection of pubs on Bexley Square, around 15 or 20 minutes' walk from the city centre. Popular with a local crowd, it’s also much feted by local beer enthusiasts, with up to 18 cask ales on tap at any one time, and a wider selection of bottled Belgian and continental beer. The football action takes place in the function room around the back, with room for about 50-odd heads. Seek out a spot early, especially for local games, with the friendly atmosphere and relatively adventurous drinking options making it well worth it.