by stuart brennan
FC UNITED'S bid to build their own stadium has received a major boost from Manchester City Council.
The Rebels, who hope to have their own home within five years, have been commended for their "vision" by the council, which is now trying to find a site for a 5,000-capacity ground.
FC general manager Andy Walsh and board member Adam Brown recently met leader of the council Sir Richard Leese and town hall officers to discuss ways forward for the club formed by dis- affected Manchester United supporters in 2005.
And Sir Richard told the recent conference of Supporters Direct - the government body set up to give football fans a greater say in the running of their clubs - that, "we were really convinced by the vision that FC United set out."
The importance of building their own ground was laid bare at FC's annual meeting at the weekend, when it was revealed that the club lost £40,000 in the last financial year.
Attendances have dropped since the club's inaugural season, despite two successive promotions and the fact that the Rebels are now riding high in the UniBond League's first division north.
But the club now has a hard-core support of around 2,200, and believe they can only start to fulfil their dream of becoming a community club once they get their own ground after three seasons of sharing with Bury.
The ground-share has been a big drain on resources, to the point that some home cup games - like tomorrow night's President's Cup clash with Bamber Bridge - have been switched to Radcliffe Borough's cheaper stadium.
Outlining plans for a new stadium at the club's meeting, Brown said: "Absolutely essential to what we are trying to do is the community approach of this football club.
"We are renting a ground and have access to it only when there is a match on, which means we don't have a base from which to work and that all the income we get is not being re-invested in the club but is going out to other organisations such as Bury Football Club.
"We have a very clear rationale. Any money that comes into the club needs to be reinvested into the club, and we can't fulfil our ambitions of being a community club if we are constantly nomadic."
As to the £40,000 loss, Walsh explained: "In our first year we had a surplus and decided we would employ a club development officer as we needed to show community funders that we were serious.
"We also wanted to set up reserve and youth teams and all of those things cost us £75,000 which, with grant funding, came down to about £60,000.
"A significant part of our outgoings are matchday operating costs which are far in excess of those faced by other clubs at our level because we play at such a large ground and need to employ 40 staff. But we still expect to hit something like break even for the current year."