Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The FA: Standing United

Source: The FA Website

Standing United

By Tony Incenzo. Tuesday, 18 October 2005.

FC United of Manchester were formed in the summer by disillusioned Manchester United fans.

The new club play their home games at Bury FC's Gigg Lane ground and are currently top of the Moore & Co Construction Solicitors (North West Counties) League Division Two.

Club spokesman Andy Walsh talks to TheFA.com about the new club.

Q. Andy, how pleasing is it to see the new club thriving?
A. Everyone connected with FC United is very happy with the progress we have made both on and off the pitch. Last week, we had two home gates in excess of 3,000. In fact the attendance of 3,808 versus Daisy Hill on 8 October was our best so far. Those crowds have exceeded all the expectations we had when we started the club back in the summer.

Q. How much effort did it take to get FC United off the ground?
A. It required an immense amount of work by a lot of people. We had to ensure that the club was properly constituted and that we made proper applications to The FA and the North West Counties League.

None of that could have been achieved without the efforts of many fans connected to the club. And also we are grateful for the support and advice we received from others in the non-league game, plus the NWCL and the Manchester County FA as well.

Q. Everything moved quite quickly didn't it?
A. Yes. Back in May when Mr Glazer made his move for Manchester United, we very quickly decided that something had to be done for all those fans who would no longer be going along to support Glazer's business.

We wanted to keep that community together. It wasn't a question of being anti-Manchester United. We just wanted to link all those people who were opposed to Glazer and who had pledged not to give any of their money to back him.

Q. How is the groundsharing at Bury FC going?
A. It has been very successful and we are very grateful to their directors for all the assistance they have given us.

We have a groundsharing arrangement with them for this season and an option to continue into the next campaign as well. But we have already started to explore the possibilities of actually establishing a ground of our own.

Q. What are the options there?
A. It would take a lot of work and discussions are at a very early stage at the moment. But it is something we feel obliged to plan for.

Q. You are top of the league so can you keep it going?
A. We've had a good start on the pitch and the players are starting to bond now. It is very difficult to get a team to gel straight away, so the manager and coaches have done a wonderful job.

Q. What reaction have you had from other clubs in your league?
A. Opposing players have let us know that they have enjoyed playing in front of our crowds. And opposing clubs have benefited financially. So everyone is a winner all round.

Q. What is the future potential?
A. At the moment, we are still reeling from the success we have had. We have set ourselves some targets as a board in terms of developing the club. The supporters themselves have plenty of ideas about how matters should move forward over the course of the next few months.

Things are still at a very early stage. But any fears that we initially had that the project may not take off have now been replaced by considerations about how we can deal with the problems of growth and the enormous support that we have enjoyed.

We want to make sure that we are laying down foundations now for the long-term stability of the club. No one here sees this as a flash in the pan.

What we need to do is to make sure that the support of the fans is consolidated and that the club's future is secured.

If you'd like to find out more about FC United of Manchester, click here to visit their official website.