Two traslations for this, first one out is Matthew Preston's effort:
“I can always see Ronaldinho in the pub”
Following the takeover of Manchester United by billionaire Malcolm Glazer many fans turned their backs on the famous English club. They formed FC United of Manchester and they believe they have found football's lost soul.
Close your eyes. Keep them closed. No blinking. Put your hand over your ears, as if it were a freezing cold day in January. Right now all you can hear is a dull thud. Let yourself drift. Your head starts to nod all the same. Does it nod, because it wants to? Or does it want to, because it does? Left, right, left again, right. It wants to, because it must. Hands away from your ears. Wow, that’s loud. Really loud. English fans are unbelievably loud. “We’ll never pay Glazer or work for Sky. But we still want City to go down. There are two Uniteds in our soul. Someone said, Glazer's a fan. Bollocks, there’s more chance of me sticking my…...”, well, we’ll leave that to the imagination. "What's even more improbable, however, is that this is a game in the 9th division of English football. In 2005 the bulk of the Man. Utd support rebelled against the takeover by American billionaire Malcolm Glazer - to no avail. The renegades went away and formed their own club: FC United of Manchester.
18 months have passed and Peter Munday looks out of the window, deep in thought. It is pretty mild for November in England. “A lot of people didn’t appreciate amidst all the euphoria how much work was required. We had to register the club with the FA , find a league, a ground, players, a manager, money...but it came off. And we're still here."
The decision was taken by 12 disillusioned Man U fans as they gathered in an Indian restaurant to lick their wounds over a curry and a few beers. They went public with the idea. “Within a week thousands of sympathisers had donated €220 000”, club treasurer Munday revealed. “The donations keep pouring in” It wasn’t long before 930 hopefuls had applied to the club for a trial, with applications coming from as far afield as the Czech Republic and Africa. As the one witty would-be striker boasted; “Nobody’s ever saved a shot of mine at one of my brother’s barbeques.” Today the club boasts a squad of 24 players, a reserve and a youth team. After winning promotion in the club's inaugural season, FC United top the table once again after 20 games with a goal difference of plus 65. "Great match, eh?" croaks Paul, who sounds as if 90 minutes of singing have taken their toll on his vocal chords.
“7-0. Mind you, it was against the bottom team." He giggles. Ketchup from his burger has dripped onto his FC United scarf. Official merchandise, as well as sponsoring also helps keep the club afloat. Shirts, mugs, caps, pennants, DVDs, ties are all on sale. "Time for a pint". The Waterloo pub at the end of the road is buzzing. For years Paul would get off at Old Trafford station. Since the summer of 2005 he now travels a couple of stops further to Bury. FC United have taken up residence at the home of fourth division Bury FC and draw almost twice as many fans as their hosts. "I've given up my season ticket at Man Utd. Glazer's not getting any of my money. I used to be able to go to Old Trafford, stand, meet my mates, have a pint. Now you have to apply for a ticket six weeks in advance, Sky dictates when games kick-off, nobody can afford the price of a ticket anymore, the penguins in the boxes aren't the slightest bit interested in the game, everyone's sitting down, you're not even allowed to fart. It's opera, not football. Alongside Paul a further 119 fans gave up their season tickets, many also sold their shares.
The fan community in Manchester has a strong code of honour and a lobby which has to be taken seriously. The influential “Manchester United Supporters’ Trust”, made up of 30 000 shareholders in the club (including VIPs and well-known journalists) played a decisive role in 1999 in ensuring that the planned takeover of the club by Rupert Murdoch did not succeed. Together with the "Independent Manchester United Supporters Association" they threatened to boycott products made by the club’s sponsors. Murdoch pulled the plug on the project.
It is partly because of this that the Glazer coup has left deep scars. "We couldn't have demonstrated at the stadium every week, “says Jules Spencer, ex-president of the IMUSA, now on the board at FC United. "The Glazer deal was basically just the catalyst. FC United is not just an anti-Glazer reaction. It is more. We wanted to freeze ticket prices, no more business lounges but the club just wasn't listening to the fans anymore. Now we want to build something for the people of the city, something positive for the future. Leave a legacy. “
Nostalgia has an important part to play. After all, it was local railway workers who founded Newton Heath Football Club as a joke in 1878. In 1902 the name was changed to Manchester United Football Club. A century later and the club is one of the world’s largest multi- million pound businesses. Manchester United refuses to comment on the rebels. And they, for their part, don’t like to comment (officially) on Manchester United. Since the initial media hype died down, the breakaway club has sought to establish a moderate profile. It does not want to be seen as some kind of a joke team from a TV programme. Everybody here is taking the project seriously.
Nobody takes it more seriously than the manager, Karl Marginson, a semi-pro with Rotherham in his day and who now gets up at 3.30 every morning to begin his grocery delivery round. It’s normally harder to find somewhere to park in Manchester than to motivate his team. He has already managed to persuade a couple of semi-pros to drop down the league ladder. No big names, though. The biggest coup was probably the signing of Rhodri Giggs, brother of Man U star Ryan. Rumours that Cantona or Roy Keane will lend their backing to the club are usually taken with a pinch of salt. Such publicity is frowned upon. Fan clubs from China, Sweden or Holland are much more welcome.
The founders of FC United have taken a lot of encouragement from the story of AFC Wimbledon. In 2002 a group of businessmen uprooted FC Wimbledon and took the club 70 miles from London, to Milton Keynes. Many fans had had enough and formed their own club. AFC now play in their own ground, "the Fans' Stadium" in the seventh division, and such is the young talent available that the club has six youth teams. In the wake of that exodus, the newly formed club, the Milton Keynes Dons currently lurk in the fourth division.
Fan opinion in Manchester is still divided. Some criticise FC United, they see FC United as simply contributing to Manchester United's woes. Some only travel to away games, so as not to line Glazer's pockets. Some identify with both clubs- two Uniteds, one soul. Many think like Paul, however. "Hey," whispers Paul, drawing heavily on his cigarette, "you know what? We're rediscovering football's soul" Next to us in the stand are women, men, kids, prams- all football daft. They dance, cheer, sing, have fun. Kick-off three o’clock, the eleventh Commandment." His chubby fingers stroke the back of his neck. “I’m over sixty, I saw Georgie Best. The feeling now, at FC United, is like back then. I don’t miss today's swollen-headed primadonnas at all. I can see Ronaldinho in the pub if I want to. Maybe one day there will be a league with The Real Chelsea, FC United, AFC Wimbledon and Liverpool Fans United. I’m going to have a whiskey. Don't tell my wife". His wife is only a few yards away from him. She is singing with the other fans in the packed pub. She is having fun, too. Not because she has too, but because she wants to. And she has been since 2005. Every Saturday, 3 o'clock."
Second translation, from Charlie (Düsseldorf_Red).
"I can watch Ronaldinho in the pub"
After the takeover of Manchester United by the billionaire Malcolm Glazer, many fans turned their back on the top club. Instead they formed their own club, FC United of Manchester and hope they have found the lost soul of football.
Close your eyes. Shut them tight. Don't peek. Hands over your ears as if it's one of those icy January days. Now it's only a vague dum-dum-du. Let yourself go. Nevertheless your head is bound to move. Does it have to? Does it want to? To the left, to the right, left again, right again. It wants to alright because it just has to. Take your hands off your ears. Fuck, is that loud! Really fucking loud! English fans are unbelievably fucking loud!
"Don't pay Glazer or work for Sky.
Still sing City's going to die.
Two United's but the soul is one.
Someone said Glazer's a fan.
What a load of shite."
Ahem, well which you can probably guess which part of the body is meant to be plugged into a socket. But it's probably a bit more difficult to imagine what's actually happening in the English ninth division. In 2005 the majority of Manchester United fans rebelled in vain against the takeover by American tycoon Malcolm Glazer. The rebels turned away and started their own club: FC United of Manchester.
18 months later and Peter Munday is lost in thought looking out of the window. It's a very mild day in the North of England for November. "A lot of us just had no idea in the euphoria of what was coming to us. Register the club with the FA - sort out a league, a ground, playes, money... but it worked and we're still here."
Twelve of the disillusioned fans were sitting down together over a curry and several pints and took the decision. They went public. "Seven days later thousands of sympathiser had donated € 220,000", reveals Munday, club treasurer. "We're still getting donations". Shortly afterwards there were 930 applications for the trials including ones from the Czech Republic or Africa and including the amusing one of a prospective centre forwards: "At my brother's summer barbecues no one's managed to stop one of my shots." Today the club has a squad of 24 players, a reserve team and a youth team. After promotion in their first season is FC United top of the league after twenty games with a lead of seven points and a goal difference of 65.
"Is that great, or what?" croaks Paul. 90 minutes of singing haven't done his vocal chords any good. "Seven nil but that was against the bottom team." He giggles. Ketchup is dropping from his burger and onto his FCUM scarf. Merchandising is important for the club: shirts; mugs; caps; DVD's; woolly hats and even ties. "Time for a beer". The Waterloo pub at the end of the street is heaving. For years Paul used to get out at the Old Trafford station. Since the summer of 2005 he's been travelling a few stops further to Bury. It was at the fourth division team in Manchester's suburbs that FC United found a home and draws nearly twice as many spectators. "I've given up my Manchester United season ticket. I'm not shoving any more money up Glazer's arse. I used to be able to go to Old Trafford and stand with my mates and have a beer. Nowawdays I have to apply for a ticket six weeks in advance and Sky decides when the kick-off should be. No one can affors the tickets and the penguins in the business boxes don't care at all about the game. Everyone sits down, you can't even fart! That's opera not football!" Along with Paul 119 other fans handed in their season tickets and many sold their shares.
The fan community in Manchester has a strong moral code and a lobby that should be taken seriously. The influential group "Manchester United Supporters' Group" made up of than 30,000 fans with shares (among them VIP's and respected journalists) played a decisive part in preventing the planned takeover of the club by media mogul Rupert Murdoch in 1999. Together with the "Indepedant Manchester United Supporters' Association" (IMUSA) they threatened to boycott club sponsors, forcing Murdoch to give up.
It was also because of this that the Glazer takeover left such deep scars. "We could have demonstrated every day in front of the stadium", says Jules Spencer, ex-president of IMUSA and now on the board of FC United. "The Glazer deal was basically just a catalyst. FC United is not just an anti-Glazer reaction. It's more than that. We wanted to freeze the ticket prices, no new business lounges but the club just wasn't listening to the fans. Now we want to create something for the people of the city. Something positive for the future. Carry on the tradition."
Every letter is swaddled in nostalgia. It was in 1878 that local railway workers founded the Newton Heath Football Club. In 1902 and the club's name was changed to Manchester United Footbal Club. A century later and the club has been transformed into one of the world's largest multi-million companies (translator: is it bollocks, it's just one of the biggest football clubs). Manchester United avoids any form of comment towards the rebels. Since the first wave of media coverage has passed it's time for a more modest image. The club is not a joke made up for some stupid TV show. Everyone here takes the club seriously.
First in line is manager Karl Marginson who in his prime was semi-pro at Rotherham and now gets up at 3:30 am every morning to deliver food. It's usually more difficult to find a parking space in Manchester than to motivate the team. He's convinced a couple of other semi-pros to drop a couple of leagues. No one famous except perhaps Rhodri Giggs (29) brother of Man Utd star Ryan. People turn their noses up at the rumours that Eric Cantona or Roy Keane will be supporting the club. Fan clubs in China, Holland or Sweden are more welcomed.
The founders were also able to draw inspiration from the story of AFC Wimbledon. In 2002 a group of businessmen manhandled Wimbledon 70 miles from London to Milton Keynes. Many of the fans refused to go along and formed their own club. AFC Wimbledon are now playing in their own "Fan's stadium" in the seventh division and the youth teams go down to the under-10's. The exiled Milton Keynes Dons are now languishing in the fourth divisions.
In Manchester is the fan community somewhat divided. Some criticise FC United because they think that this makes Man United's problems worse; some only go to away games so that they don't give Glazer a penny; some feel they belong to both clubs - two Uniteds, one soul; many think like Paul. "Hey", whispers Paul while he draws heavily on his cigarette. "You know what? We're bringing the soul back to football. In the stands there are women, pushchairs, men, toddlers - every one of them football mad. The dance, party, sing and simply enjoy themselves. Kick-off, Saturday 3 o'clock, the eleventh commandment!" His thick fingers drawn up to his neck. "I'm over sixty, I saw Georgie Best. The feeling at FC United is the same as back then. I don't miss these puffed up upstarts. I can watch Ronaldinho in the pub. Maybe there'll soon be a league with The Real Chelsea, AFC Wimbledon and Liverpool Fans United. I'll get myself a whiskey but don't tell the wife." His wife is dancing a few feet away singing with the rest in a pub that is full to bursting and she is enjoying herself. Maybe like that back then. Not because she has to but because she wants to. Since 2005. Every Saturday at three.