Thursday, March 16, 2006

Whatever course we take, it's up to all of us

Source: The Guardian

Some important decisions must be made at FC United's second general meeting - but, as Tony Howard explains, the most important thing of all is that it's the members making the decisions

Wednesday March 15, 2006

With the recent arctic weather, games have become thinner on the ground than the grass at Gigg Lane, so FC United fans have turned their attention to events off the pitch.

The club is about to hold its first general meeting since formation back in July. On that occasion we chose the club badge and our own board. Now we are set to debate some of the issues that will form the very core of the club - whether to have shirt sponsorship, and how often to change the kit and ticket prices.

Admittedly there won't be much debate regarding the latter, as the board is proposing to give adult season-ticket holders three free matches and kids admittance for the equivalent of £1 a game.

The free match policy is a throw-back to the days when Manchester United still rewarded their supporters. Reds fans used to get two home games free with their 'League Match Ticket Books' (the poor man's season ticket), until the powers-that-be took advantage of an increase in the number of teams in the Premier League and removed the privilege.

The official line from the club was that season-ticket prices had been 'frozen' for the following season. But it didn't take us long to realise that with two extra teams in the league they had cleverly increased their revenue by two games.

No chance of that happening with our club - because we'd have the right to vote against it.

The board has also recommended "that no FC United of Manchester playing strip will carry a shirt sponsorship", and this should be backed to the hilt.

If it's good enough for Barcelona, it's good enough for us. United fans have always lamented how they'd love to see the famous red shirt unspoiled by garish type in the name of raising revenue for some faceless corporation. Now we can vote it into our rules.

The one issue that's caused great debate so far is when to change the current playing strip. Replica kit sales have been a massive revenue earner because fans, who wouldn't have touched official MUFC merchandise with a barge pole, are now snapping up the latest tat as if it is literally going out of fashion.

Knowing that all profits are piled back into the club has spurred many United fans on to do what they would never have dreamed of doing at Old Trafford - they've bought football shirts. Even if it is from a 'megastall' outside Gigg Lane rather than the Megastore that dominates the Old Trafford frontage.

So there is a choice. Do we increase this revenue by changing the kit for next season or keep it for two years? Many argue by changing the kit we are no better than the Old Trafford money-making scheme, but on the other hand all extra revenues are genuinely for the benefit of the future of the club.

It will be an interesting vote, but one thing is already guaranteed - it's all up to us. With one member and one vote, the feeling of democracy is both new and invigorating. It honestly is our club and our rules.

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