The Big Interview
Karl Marginson (FC United Manager) by Craig Chisnall
Sunday, May 11, 2008
PRINCIPLES can be expensive in sport.
They probably cost Eric Liddell the 100m title at the 1924 Olympics while devout Christian Jonathan Edwards withdrew from the 1991 World Championships when his triple jump final was scheduled for a Sunday.
So what price strongly-held principles for the fans of FC United?
The supporters who formed their breakaway club to restore footballing traditions of the past – Saturday 3pm kick-offs among them – might soon find that success comes at a price.
When FC United’s fixture against Curzon Ashton this season was moved to accommodate UniBond TV there was uproar.
The fans turned their backs on the meddlesome broadcasters and went to watch their reserves instead.
Now, just two promotions from the Blue Square Premier – and the prospect of games being staged to suit broadcasters once more – reality of modern day sport could soon bite again.
Manager Karl Marginson bright but knows some tough decisions might need to be made by his hard-core supporters following the club’s third successive promotion to the UniBond Premier League.
“Without a doubt we can become a Football League club but there are big bridges to be crossed,” said Marginson.
“There are going to be issues with the fans but they will be the ones who decide how far we want to go.
“You only have to look at the backlash of the fans when the game was moved for UniBond TV.
With the right decisions in place there will be a compromise. The TV companies do bring in money at this level but we’ve got fans who travel in large numbers and the attraction of the club has been football at traditional times.
“They aren’t going to want to travel to Weymouth on a Sunday night just because our match is on the TV. Nobody is blind to the issues and these things are going to come up but the beauty of the club is that they will be voted on.
“It’s all in the future and it probably will be a nightmare but I will have to have a look at it at some point.
“I’m ambitious and I want to realise my ambitions with FC United – I live and breathe this club.”
Marginson does just that – as well as being boss of the first team he works in the club’s community department. And it’s those links with the community that have made the club a stunning success. The club’s home gates have been consistently higher than landlords Bury’s and the away travel has had many cashstrapped clubs rubbing their hands when they come to town.
Now UniBond Premier chairmen will be seeing pound signs – but it’s a big step-up for Marginson’s men.
But Marginson reveals he has learned a lot in the last 12 months to take into Step 3.
“I’ve been planning for next season for a couple of months and the main thing we need to have is more strength in depth,” Marginson added.
“We lost our leading goalscorer in Stuart Rudd and my captain Dave Chadwick for the majority of the season and it was hard to replace them.
“We were asking young lads to do jobs that were a little bit too much for them and we can’t afford to do that next season.
“We’re going to restructure a few things. I’m going to have a bigger first team squad rather than the reserves and players who aren’t involved regularly can go out on-loan or we can organise friendly reserve games when it suits us.
“I’ve got players in Chris Baguley, Rory Patterson and Jerome Wright who I believe can play in the League and I don’t fear next season. There are going to be plenty of good sides but I believe we could be one of them.”
The atmosphere at Gigg Lane will put plenty of fire in opposition bellies but not for too much longer hopes Marginson.
Marginson says the club won’t realise their potential until they have a home to call their own.
“Some people think we’ve got buckets of money – that’s not the case and until we get our own ground we won’t be able to be as self sufficient as we want,” he added.
“The plans are well down the road and that’s going to be a big plus – at the moment all we are doing is handing out a huge amount of money to Bury every week.
“We all want our own home and when we move back closer to Manchester city centre I see no reason why our attendances won’t improve again and push the club on further. I just hope I can play my part because I’ve loved every minute so far."