Sunday, April 16, 2006

NLP: Reds in black and on the up

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usSource: The Non-League Paper (no online content)

By Stephen Bond

THE SCEPTICS were lining up to take pot-shots when FC United embarked on what may one day become part of footballing filklore. But one month shy of their first birthday, with promotion secured and an average crowd of 3,000, the doubters have had their words rammed down their throats.

But board member Jules Spencer knows that the club is still a baby in football terms, and must learn to walk before it can run.

"We have been running for under 12 months and if we started spouting off about playing League football, we'd be setting ourselves up for a fall," Spencer said. "We'd be showing a big-time attitude we can't afford.

"There is also a fantastic history in Non-League football and for us to talk above our status would be disrespectful to the clubs that have been around for years.

"The foundation they've formed is what allowed us to come into existence."

Despite Spencer's caution, he revealed the club's future plans, which could see UniBond football at Gigg Lane within two years.

"At the beginning, we set ourselves a target to be playing UniBond football in three seasons," he said. "Our aim is two promotions in three years and the first has now been achieved, so we are on track."

Spencer also said the club expects - in financial terms - to end the season in black, not the red they were prepared for.

"We budgeted to make a small operation loss this season, but we've made a small profit and in the business plan all the profits go back into the club," he said.

"The club wasn't formed so people could make a profit - the money will go back into the club or the community initiatives we help.

"The key thing is, the directors are all fans and will dictate the direction of the club."

Any United fans expecting to see manager Karl Marginson splash the cash this summer should forget it. Spencer says the long-term future of the club is paramount to their plans.

"The budget we set this season will remain in place," he said. "If we turned around and said we were about to spend big, it would be a poor decision.

"Nothing here is for the short-term - we are here for the duration."

Spencer admitted that he was almost in tears on Wednesday night as the Rebels beat Chadderton 4-0 to ensure they will be playing in North West Counties Division One next season.

Rebels fans may be dreaming of one day singing their hearts out as away supporters at Old Trafford - and if the first season is anything to go by, you'd be a brave man to bet against it.