Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fans launch plans to run Reds

By Gary Morgan

12 February 2009

A HIGH profile first team manager is just one of the exciting new proposals pledged by a group of dedicated Redditch United fans keen to ensure the town's club remains, should the current cash-strapped set-up succumb to its reported financial difficulties.

Fronted by fan Steve Workman, the nine-man supporters' group, which has a working title of AFC Redditch, gave a presentation to fellow followers at Batchley Social Club last Thursday night when they outlined their contingency plans if the club went bust.

The ambitious proposals would see the not-for-profit club effectively owned by the fans in a co-operative with a one share per person scheme.

Each member of the co-operative would also be given one vote on all football matters, including team strip and admission prices.

The club would aim to be at the heart of the Redditch community delivering a range of projects, such as disability schemes and school tournaments, and would be run by a paid operations manager who would be accountable to a steering committee made up of democratically elected supporters.

Mr Workman, who has been in close contact with officials at 'fans clubs' AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester, insisted the proposals should not be viewed as a threat to the current board.

"This is not a challenge, it is important to stress that, it is just something we have in place so that we can move quickly when the situation arises," he told The Standard.

"I do believe it is a case of when and not if now so we have to make sure we have these plans in place so we can protect the future of the club we are all so passionate about."

If the current Blue Square North club did go into liquidation it is likely any 'new' set-up would be forced to drop a couple of levels in the football pyramid.

While that may concern some fans, the group behind AFC Redditch has pledged to rebuild the club into one that is successful and sustainable on and off the pitch.

Mr Workman has already held discussions with the town's business community and received positive feedback regarding sponsorship opportunities.

And in a move which is likely to whet the appetite of fans, he revealed he had already met with prospective "high profile" first team managers.

While not in a position to reveal any names, Mr Workman did suggest their identities would help recapture fans' love and imagination for their club.

"I have spoken to a firm who have already pledged to sponsor the first team manager's salary because they are so impressed with the community nature of this proposal," he said.

"I have also had a meeting with a couple of potential first team managers and, while it is too early to discuss names, let me tell you I couldn't sleep I was so excited after meeting one of them."

The group have also shown their presentation to officials at Redditch Borough Council and received a warm response.

They are planning a further presentation to fans who were unable to attend last week's meeting