Tuesday, May 23, 2006

League feels the effect of United front

Source: Oldham Evening Chronicle

ALAN Farnworth, vice-chairman of The Moore and Co. Construction Solicitors League, has described as a “godsend” the financial impact FC United have made on local non-league football.

Statistics released by the league demonstrate the pulling power of the team formed by disgruntled Manchester United fans.

Their home league attendances totalled 55,053 at an average of 3,058. That’s superior to Coca-Cola League Two side Bury, whose ground they share.

And the figure of 55,053 is larger than the combined attendance for all 22 first division clubs, which stands at 46,958.

FC United’s impact in the second division is underlined by the fact that all 18 opponents recorded their best home attendance of the season against them.

And in the case of local clubs Chadderton and Oldham Town, they smashed their club records with crowds of 2,352 and 1,767 respectively.

The remaining 18 clubs had total attendances for the season of 59,571. But take away the FC United factor, which accounted for 38,435 spectators, and only 21,136 fans watched non-FC United games in division two.

Mr Farnworth said: “I thought FC United should not have been elected to the league because they failed to meet various rules.

“They came in on a late ticket with no ground and manager, but clubs voted them in.

“But they have conducted themselves well, have been a welcome addition to the league and a financial godsend to clubs in division two.”

Mr Farnworth said the only problem had been for clubs to find grounds capable of hosting fixtures.

For example, over 4,000 spectators went to the Blackpool Mechanics game which was switched to Bloomfield Road.

He said: “I have heard people grumble that it is unfair as they have so much money, but that is part and parcel of football. Look at Chelsea in the Premiership.

“And it was not the walk-over many thought it would be as they only won the league by seven points.”