Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Town look for cash windfall

Source: oldham-chronicle.co.uk

by Tony Bugby

OLDHAM TOWN are hoping tomorrow’s glamour game against FC United at Boundary Park will provide financial security for years to come.

It will be the biggest game in the history of the local club, easily surpassing their previous biggest crowd of 600 for an FA Cup tie against Halifax Town in 1996.

And tomorrow will be a far cry to Saturday when their home crowd was 85 for their semi-final against Salford City in The Moore & Co Construction Solicitors League Challenge Cup.

Secretary Dave Shepherd says it is impossible to estimate the size of the turnout, but believes it could exceed 3,000 which is why it was switched from the Whitebank Stadium.

He said: “Apart from FC United’s massive following, we have had a lot of interest from within the Oldham area and we are hoping Latics fans will also turn out to support us.

“The break-even figure is 1,000 ,which will cover the costs of staging the match at Boundary Park, and anything above that will be profit.

“If we could attract a crowd of 3,000 it would keep the club running for between two and three years which would be marvellous.”

FC United matches have already attracted 11 attendances of 3,000 and over and they recently took an incredible 4,000 fans to an away match at Blackpool Mechanics.

Town have already played the team, formed by Manchester United fans disillusioned by Malcolm Glazer’s takeover, at Gigg Lane in October in front of a crowd of 3,110 which was then a record for The Moore & Co Construction Solicitors League.

The local side gave a creditable display and were unlucky to lose 1-0.

“You worry that players may be overawed having never played in front of a crowd of that size, but our lads rose to the occasion and should never have lost,” explained manager Tony Mills, who added that players at their level can only usually dream of playing on such a big stage.

And though FC United are runaway leaders of the second division they are not invincible as was shown last Tuesday when they lost their second league match at home to Flixton, though they hit back with a resounding 8-1 victory against Leek CSOB on Saturday.

Mills believes tomorrow’s game will be an ever bigger occasion than their first meeting.

And he says the formation of FC United has been great for local non-league football, providing a financial lifeline for cash-strapped clubs.

The main stand and Rochdale Road end will be open tomorrow and it will be pay on the turnstiles with admission prices £7 for adults and £3 for children/pensioners.