Monday, June 29, 2009

Co-op trophy for FC United

Source: Crain's Manchester Business

1:13 pm, June 29, 2009

FC United of Manchester won the award for promotion of co-operative values and principles at the inaugural Co-operative Excellence awards.

The club, set up by fans opposed to the 2005 takeover of the club by Florida-based businessman Malcolm Glazer and his family, is run on co-operative lines.

Ben Reid, chair of Co-operativesUK, said: “FC United of Manchester set out to be a supporter run football club that works with the community, and that is exactly what they have achieved. They are worthy of this award for all they have done to forward understanding of co-operation and co operative values and principles.”

Phil Sheeran, one of 11 directors of FC United who are directly elected by the membership, said: “FC United of Manchester is proud to be constituted as a co-operative in the world of sport and we are very grateful to Co-operativesUK for recognising the club's work and honouring us with this prestigious award.

“Volunteer-led sports clubs provide the backbone of sporting provision in the UK; it is the work undertaken by these mutual organisations and co-operatives that embodies the founding principles and values of the co-operative movement.”

Glazers: Four years on

Source: Manchester Evening News

Stuart Mathieson

June 29, 2009
RIOT police wielding batons, angry protests, makeshift barriers being erected by fans to stop an escape from Old Trafford and a final dash from the stadium in blacked out police vans - that was the Glazer family's welcome to United four years ago.

The Stars and Stripes was hurriedly hoisted above Old Trafford's famous stands to welcome the sons of new owner Malcolm Glazer as they looked around the acquisition that their dad had bought for them to run.

They were given a guided tour, conducted their one-and-only TV interview, or media interview of any sort, with the club's station MUTV, then jetted back home to in Florida.


The Glazers left behind them the world's most famous club in turmoil. There was suspicion, bitterness, outrage and anger.

Overnight the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had saddled a successful football club with £600m worth of debt.

The support was confused and concerned. The vocal anti-Glazer brigade was already fed up with corporate Old Trafford. They had chronic indigestion brought on by prawn sandwiches.

They may not have liked ex-chairman Martin Edwards, may have been uncomfortable with a Plc, might have been dubious about chief executives Peter Kenyon and David Gill's motives but being bought by a US family and immediately saddling the club with an astonishing debt was the last straw.

Some broke off to form FC United. Others ditched their long-held season tickets and vowed never to return to watch their beloved Reds.

Others couldn't tear themselves away from a lifelong love affair with Manchester United and with a heavy heart stayed on to support the players and not the club.

There were also the 'suck it and see' brigade who were prepared to reluctantly give the Glazers a chance and if the trophies and big-name players continued to come to Old Trafford then they'd stick around and let the businessmen worry about everything else.


If the stadium's name was untouched and Sir Alex Ferguson was given a free rein to buy and sell who he wanted, then they'd shelve their concerns over the debt.

For many, the financial side was too complicated to get their heads around and so long as United were at the forefront of English and European football and challenging for the superstar signings and top prizes, then bank loans and hedge funds was a language they didn't want to get involved with.

There were also the day trippers who would remain 'loyal' so long as they could make their annual or twice year trip to Manchester, stock up at the Megastore, see their heroes in the flesh and return home laden with memorabilia and keep pledging their allegiance to the most successful side in the country. It was an unstable period with varying moods of ambivalence, hatred and hostility.

Once back across the Pond, MUTV aired the Glazers' interview on June 30 2005.

The family spokesman was Joel Glazer who told the station: "Being involved in sports, being an owner in sports, nothing can prepare you for that. I think we've seen that here, it's something you learn as you go along. But the thing I think you appreciate and you learn as you go along is how important this club is to the community and to the country.

"So you have to take that very seriously, you have to show your commitment on the pitch. I think, the supporters appreciate if you're doing everything you can to put a successful team on the pitch.

"I think people are forgiving if they know you are doing that, you're letting people know what they're doing, whether it be, the football manager making those decisions, or be the chief executive making his decisions, give them the tools, give them what they need to do their jobs, which has always been the case here.

"We're just gonna carry that on and make sure they have what they need, and then the rest usually takes care of itself.

"We are gonna provide the manager with the resources necessary to field the best team on the field.


"So again when I read about caps and hands being tied it's very frustrating, absolutely not true we are there to provide the manager what he needs to compete at the highest and to win at the highest level.

"In any sport you can't plan to have caps. Situations arise, things change you have to.

"We will not get involved with this from the start unless we can compete at the highest level not having our hands tied, so when you read about that you get kind of very upset you wanna let people know that's not the case.

"The way this club has been operating in the past is gonna be the way it's gonna operate in the future. And one of the other great things about this club is when they've gone to in the transfer market it's been for the right reasons not just to do it for the sake of a headline and that will continue.

"The other great thing about this club is the history, the academy and bringing up young players through the academy on to the pitch. There's a connection with that kind of situation that you don't get anywhere else and it's because the player grew up with the club and the connection has always been there and that's special.

"I know that that is a priority of this club and that will continue."


It didn't exactly calm the mood totally and a great deal of suspicion remains but you can hardly say they've lied with their promises. The Glazers walked into an on-field transitional period at the club that was none of their making. The Reds were knocked out of the Champions League, finishing bottom of their group, six months after the controversial takeover.

There was upheaval in the dressing room with Roy Keane quitting and Ruud van Nistelrooy being told to leave.

But the Glazers remained silent, gave Fergie carte blanche to do what was needed to take the club into another era.

Their silence may have annoyed fans and irritated journalists but nobody could accuse them of meddling.

They turned up for the big occasions and went home.

Inevitably, there were season ticket increases, but likely as not they would have happened anyway, but new players arrived and Fergie was given the materials to mould another successful chapter for the club.

Three Premier League titles, a European Cup and two Carling Cups have made their way to Old Trafford since the Glazers arrived.

If you had been transported to a desert island before the takeover upheaval and returned once the new regime was underway, chances are that in June 2009 you wouldn't notice much of a difference at Old Trafford.

Of course, that £600m debt, still hangs over the club like a black cloud with nobody quite knowing where or what it will eventually lead the club into.

However, neither the passive, compliant sections of the United support nor the proactive faction can argue four years on that they were right or wrong.

Those who said it would be business as usual might feel slightly more smug but those who harboured concerns are still waiting for the potential financial disaster around the corner.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Coleraine sign striker Patterson

Coleraine have completed the signing of former Rochdale striker Rory Patterson from Blue Square North club Droylsden.

Bannsiders chairman Hugh Wade confirmed that the 24-year-old, who is originally from Strabane, has joined the club.

Patterson scored 107 goals in 126 games for FC United - the club formed by Manchester United fans angered by the Glazer's takeover at Old Trafford.

Limavady United defender Aaron Canning and former Dungannon midfielder Michael Hegarty have also signed for Coleraine.

Hegarty was released by Swifts at the end of the season and has previously played for the Bannsiders and Limavady United.

"Aaron is only 17 but he played around 30 games for Limavady's first team last year," Coleraine boss David Platt told the club website.

"He can play in a number of positions and will be playing in the Milk Cup this summer.

"He is a player with lots of potential and should be pushing for a place in the squad at the start of the season."

Friday, June 26, 2009

From Staffordshire Sentinel

(Excerpt from longer article)

LEEK CSOB have landed a plumb pre-season friendly at home to FC United on July 11.

United played their first competitive match at Harrison Park four years ago when a crowd of more than 2,000 watched their 5-2 victory over Old Boys in a North West Counties League Division Two fixture.

United have since won three promotions to reach the UniBond Premier Division

Thursday, June 25, 2009

FC United set for South Korea trip

June 25, 2009

FORGET about Europe, FC United are hoping to go one better with a pre-season tour of the Far East.

They have been invited to South Korea next month but details of who they will be facing have yet to be finalised.

The club realises that some supporters will want to travel but officials are urging them not to make arrangements until exact fixture dates have been released.

And if any fans cannot afford the historic trip they may be lucky enough to go for free. For FC, in keeping with their ethos, have arranged a raffle for a free place.

The reds will be joined on their Far East adventure by 22-year-old striker Ben Deegon, who has been brought in from Ashton United in response to hot-shot Kyle Wilson’s move to Football League club Macclesfield Town.

But they will be without brothers Jamie and Chris Baguley, who have joined Leigh Genesis after being promised that they will play every week there, plus assistant manager Phil Power, who has left FC after his contract expired.

Coleraine to play Garvagh this Friday

Published Date: 23 June 2009

By Steven Crawford

THE countdown for the new season begins in earnest this Friday night as Coleraine take on Garvagh in their annual charity fundraiser.

The game at Clyde Park gets underway at 7.30pm and Bannsiders boss David Platt is confident of having several new faces in the Coleraine line up.

Speculation was rife last week that Platt had pulled off a major coup by landing striker Rory Patterson.

The Strabane man has played the most of his career in England and is the record goal scorer for Unibond Premier League side FC United. Platt though remained tight lipped on Monday only saying that several deals were due to be finalised this week.

"Several deals are due to be completed this week I'm just waiting on the nod from the IFA," he said."Until they are confirmed though I don't want to mention any names. It's fair to say though that they should feature in this Friday night's friendly along with the current squad.

"It's been hard work but we are getting there. There's not a lot of movement in the league as a whole, but I am determined to bring in the right players to Coleraine."

Platt revealed that he has completed his first transfer of the summer after finalising a deal to bring Limavady defender Aaron Canning to The Showgrounds.

Platt said: "I've known of Aaron for about four years now. He's only 17 but he played around 30 games for Limavady's first team last year.

"He can play in a number of positions and will be playing in the Milk Cup this summer, where he'll likely be captaining the Co. Londonderry team.

"He's a young player with lots of potential and he should be challenging for a place in the squad at the start of the season."

Patterson set for Bannsiders move

Source: BBC

Coleraine are poised to sign former Rochdale striker Rory Patterson from Blue Square North club Droylsden.

The 24-year-old hopes to get clearance from Droylson for the move and he could make his debut against Garvagh in a friendly on Friday night.

Patterson scored 107 goals in 126 games for FC United - the club formed by Manchester United fans angered by the Glazier's takeover at Old Trafford.

Limavady United defender Aaron Canning is also expected to join Coleraine.

"Aaron is only 17 but he played around 30 games for Limavady's first team last year," Coleraine boss David Platt told the club website.

"He can play in a number of positions and will be playing in the Milk Cup this summer.

"He is a player with lots of potential and should be pushing for a place in the squad at the start of the season."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sport on TV: United we stand: Loach is on the ball, he shoots... he scores

Source: The Independent

By Andrew Tong

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Eric Cantona did many extraordinary things on the football pitch – and one just over the edge of it. But his greatest feat since his feet stopped doing the talking must surely be to get Ken Loach to direct a comedy.

It is 40 years since Loach slipped a treasured football cameo into his film 'Kes'. Renowned for his searing portrayal of working-class life, he has allowed his latest film, 'Looking for Eric', to show how the people's game lets them dream and gives them hope.

The eponymous Eric is not Cantona but a postman, played by Steve Evets, who is haunted by the fact that he left his young wife 30 years ago. His Old Trafford idol, Cantona, appears when he smokes his stepson's dope and the Frenchman dispenses gnomic advice incessantly until his exasperated disciple tells him: "I'm still getting over the bloody seagulls."

Loach loves his sport and is heavily involved with Bath City FC. When he and Cantona visited Old Trafford to watch a match last year, Cantona brought Sir Alex Ferguson up to meet Loach at half-time and Fergie, an avowed socialist, heaped praise on his 2006 film 'The Wind That Shakes the Barley', about the fight for Irish independence. It was not, presumably, just because the owner of the legendary hair-dryer was so impressed by the wind that shook the barley.

This is not just a film for United fans. Most of Eric's fellow workers support FC United, the breakaway club formed out of resentment at Malcolm Glazer's megabucks takeover. Loach is deeply concerned with the concept of community and he says: "The idea of a group of people who club together is lost. The sense of identity is split between the people who treat it as a club and those who treat it as an investment and a brand."

Unusually, Loach's purpose seems purely to entertain rather than preach. Cantona – who has done a dozen films since his nine-month ban for attacking a fan, though no kung-fu movies to date – is engaging and funny. But there is still a strong sense of camaraderie, as Cantona says: "You must trust your team-mates, always." He told Loach this when asked about his greatest moment on the pitch: it was not a goal but a pass.

Loach teases a performance out of Cantona that Ferguson would have been proud of. But it is the team ethic that stands out. "He has no ego at all, he was just one of the lads," said Loach. "I think that's one of the things that sport teaches you. You are only as good as the team around you."

Loach likes to keep his own dedicated team on their toes, not telling them about what's in the next scene until it's time to shoot, in order to heighten the realism. He didn't even tell Evets that Cantona was in the film. Evets thought he was only a producer and when Cantona first appears on set, his shock is genuine. This is real fantasy football.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rebels off to South Korea

Source: Manchester Evening News

John Yiasoumis

June 19, 2009
FORGET about Europe, FC United are hoping to go one better with a pre-season tour to the Far East.

They've been invited to South Korea next month but details about who they will be facing have not been finalised.

The ultra-ambitious club realises that some supporters may want to travel but officials are urging them not to make arrangements until exact fixture dates are released.

And if you can't afford to travel the 5,500 miles, the club, in keeping with its ethos, have arranged a raffle for a dream place on the historic trip.

The Rebels will be joined on their Far East adventure by striker Ben Deegan, from Ashton United. He's been brought in to replace hotshot Kyle Wilson, now at Macclesfield.

Football fans are extras for Eric

Source: Bury Times

7:00am Friday 19th June 2009

THEY have been playing their part in their own thrilling story all season — and now football fans from Bury have featured in a big-screen hit too.

Non-league soccer side FC United of Manchester, who play their home games at Gigg Lane, enjoyed a rollercoaster season, a rapid rise up the table and losing out on promotion by a single goal.

Amid all the drama of the campaign, about 200 of their passionate supporters had a pleasant distraction, becoming extras in a film called Looking For Eric, which came out on Friday.

The movie tells the story of a down-on-his-luck postman who finds a friend in Manchester United legend Eric Cantona.

One of the scenes shows an FC fan singing a terrace song and the film itself touches on the story behind FC United’s formation in 2005, when a group of Manchester United fans decided the big-money stakes of the Premier League was no longer for them.

FC United volunteer Vinny Thompson said: “The producers have been very good to us and treated all the fans well.

“It was a brilliant chance for fans to get an insight into filming but also a once-in-a-lifetime shot at meeting their hero, Eric Cantona. We all really enjoyed it.”

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Four more days to enjoy Love Prestwich

Source: Edited from Prestwich and Whitefield Guide

Saturday Football skills session and tournament for all the family organised by FC United of Manchester in St Mary’s Park. From 9pm to 4pm. Free.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Looking for Eric? He's doing the raffle at Twerton Park

Source: The Observer

Looking for Eric? He's doing the raffle at Twerton Park

Eric Cantona has always been big box office and with the release of a film that bears his name the seagulls are still following the trawler and the Frenchman is straightforward as ever

o Stuart James
o The Observer, Sunday 14 June 2009

Eric Cantona, pictured here at Cannes, more recently popped up at Bath City FC. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Eric Cantona pulled a ticket out of the black-and-white striped barrel, held up the number and waited patiently for the winner to come forward before handing over third prize, a bottle of white wine. The Frenchman had already spent more than three hours at Twerton Park speaking to the local media, mingling with a number of Bath City's part-time players and holding court in the non-League club's bar. Now he was drawing the raffle.

What was going through his mind when he was asked to dip into the "golden chest" at the same time as a voluptuous assistant approached is anyone's guess, though the smile that crept across his face as laughter broke out all around suggested nothing had been lost in translation. It was a comical moment at the end of a surreal afternoon when Cantona proved to be every bit as entertaining with a microphone in his hand as he once was with a ball at his feet.

He had spent the past week making appearances up and down the country in the lead-up to Friday's release of Looking for Eric – the Ken Loach-directed film in which Cantona plays himself – but this was an entirely different gig. Twerton Park was not so much the last stop on the promotional tour, but more an opportunity for Loach to give those connected with the club he has followed since 1974 a day they would cherish for the rest of their lives.

Randall's bar is where Bath fans will mull over performances in the Blue Square South league next season, but eight days ago it provided the venue for a question and answer session with one of the greatest players ever to have pulled on a Manchester United shirt. The ­humble surroundings must have seemed a million miles away from Old Trafford and the Cannes film festival, where ­Cantona graced the red carpet a few weeks ago, yet the 43-year-old appeared totally at ease.

No subject was off-limits and as ­Cantona sat for the best part of an hour, without once looking at his watch, ­candidly discussing everything from the part his father played in his infamous kung‑fu kick at Selhurst Park to his ambition of managing Manchester United and the exorbitant ticket prices that have ­hammered a nail into the coffin of the working-class supporter, it was tempting to wonder how Cristiano Ronaldo would handle a similar engagement.

After all, at the Football Writers' Association's annual dinner 13 months ago, Ronaldo demanded at the last minute that space was made for five of his entourage to sit on the top table with him. ­Cantona, in contrast, walked around Twerton Park with the minimum of fuss and took his seat on the small stage in front of the 350 supporters that had crammed into Bath City's function room as if he was pulling up a chair at home.

The first exchange, which followed a rapturous welcome, wonderfully set the tone for the next 60 minutes. Why do you think so many people are here and that you are still so popular, Eric? There was a brief pause before Cantona looked up and replied: "Because I am not a man. I am Cantona." The line was straight out of Looking for Eric and engendered the sort of reaction that used to be reserved for one of his exquisite touches at Old Trafford.

It also became clear there was more where that came from. What's the most difficult: playing football or acting in films? "For me," said Cantona, with a shrug of the shoulders, "everything is easy." For the second time in 60 ­seconds the room erupted and it was easy to ­imagine that if Cantona had got up from his seat and left at that point, no one would have complained that the £20 they had spent on a ticket did not represent value for money.

Cantona has always been box-office material. In his six seasons in English football, he won the league title on five occasions, four times with Manchester United and once with Leeds. He would probably have completed a clean sweep but for a notorious January evening in 1995, when Matthew Simmons, a 20-year-old Crystal Palace fan, provoked a furious reaction from Cantona that led to an assault charge, 120 hours' community service, a nine-month ban and Blackburn winning the league.

It was the sort of incident that ­Cantona could have been forgiven for side­stepping. Did you hear him or see him? "I heard him and I saw him," said Cantona, smiling. "And he heard me and he saw me!" Why did you decide to kick him? "My father, when I was young, he said: 'If you fight somebody one day, you have to kick them first'." Cue more mirth. "I could have killed him," continued ­Cantona. "I was nice to him really."

The quotation that Cantona later gave at Croydon magistrates' court – "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea" – is almost as ­memorable as the incident itself, though he insists that he never intended to cause such a stir. "It was a way for me to put a mirror in front of them [the journalists] and to try to make them realise that it was not so serious," he explained. "But all of them tried to analyse it."

Cantona returned from his suspension in October, when he scored against Liverpool, a feat that he repeated against the same opponents in the FA Cup final to help United win their second Double in three season. He was 29 years old and at the peak of his footballing powers, but 12 months later he quit. "I lost the passion for the game," he said. "I don't know why the passion went. You are in love with somebody and sometimes you break up."

He insists he has never regretted the decision. "I think the best years for a footballer are between 26 and 30 and I spent these years with United. I was lucky to spend these best years with the best club in the world, with the best players and with the best manager. The players were the kind of footballers that I dreamed about when I was a child. And it was the perfect football for a player like me. They gave me everything and I had a great time."

With acting now his priority, Cantona no longer follows football closely but he knows enough about the game to realise that much has changed since he retired and not necessarily for the better. One of the subjects he feels most ­passionate about is the soaring cost of tickets, an issue that Loach tackles in Looking for Eric through Cantona's co-star, Steve Evets, who plays Eric Bishop, a postman who has switched his allegiances from Manchester United to FC United, the club formed by fans disillusioned with the Glazer's takeover at Old Trafford.

Cantona, who had a working-class upbringing, empathises with those supporters who can no longer afford to attend top-flight matches and there seems little doubt that United's ­owners were uppermost in his mind when he suggested that football has betrayed its traditional fan base in the pursuit of wider profit margins. "There are many games on TV now and many sponsors come," said Cantona. "They [the clubs] make a lot of money.

"It's big business and because of that businessmen now own the clubs. If football was not so much on TV, I'm not sure these kind of men would be involved. So I am not so surprised with these kind of businessmen that the ticket prices are higher and higher. They don't care about working-class people. I try to understand it because I care. I came from this class. The real fans of football are the people I really love and these kind of people ­cannot go to the game anymore."

Not for the first time the silence that accompanied Cantona picking up the microphone was followed by cheering and applause when he put it down, and there was no sense that he was merely saying what the audience wanted to hear when he added: "I think it's a shame that the money the TV pays for football is spent on the clubs at the highest level. More money should be spent on clubs like this because Bath are the future."

Cantona's own future seems more difficult to plot. He is enjoying his new career as an actor, which he first became interested in when he was banned from playing, but there is also a feeling that he has some unfinished business in football. "If I come back, I try to come back for United," said Cantona. "I'm not sure that after a while [Malcolm] Glazer will ask me to become a manager. But I would love to. I don't care about what they [the Glazers] are saying."

While the chances of Cantona ­taking over when ­Ferguson retires appear slim, it is safe to say that there would not be a more popular appointment. His name continues to reverberate around Old Trafford 12 years after he played his last game for the club and his thoughts on his former manager's behaviour in the dressing room suggest that his current work could be more helpful than some people might imagine.

"I think managers are like actors," said Cantona when asked whether he had ever been on the receiving end of Ferguson's "hairdryer" treatment. "They do what the players need. They launch out because the players need to feel that. And [Ferguson] was a wonderful actor. Sometimes we needed confidence and he was quiet. Sometimes we needed him to be strong and he was. Every time he was right and that's why he is so successful."

While Cantona retains a great deal of respect for Ferguson, there is a former team-mate at Old Trafford whom he also holds in high esteem. "Ryan Giggs is 35 but still has the passion for the game. I admire this kind of player. I don't admire every player in the world who plays football until 35 years old because some of them play and are not passionate anymore. But when you see Giggs, every­body knows that he still has the fight and ­passion for the game."

The Q&A was drawing to a close and there was little Cantona had not covered. He had claimed that "no one could pay it" when asked what he would be worth in today's transfer market and he even offered an explanation for his famous upturned shirt collar. "One day I just put the shirt on and the ­collar did this," he said, gesturing to the audience. "I scored a goal and after it was like a habit. Sometimes a player keeps his underwear the same; I like to change mine."

With lines like that, it is ­little wonder that Loach enjoyed working with ­Cantona so much on set. The film director thanked the Frenchman afterwards and another standing ovation for King Eric ­followed. Bath City were around £12,000 richer and Randall's would never feel the same again. Cantona, however, was not quite finished. Moments later he was holding aloft a pink ticket with No62 on it. The bottle of wine must have tasted fantastic.

Nella Manchester scippata di Ronaldo neppure Sir Alex è più al sicuro

Source: La Repubblica

Google translation: Here

I tifosi dello United, sconvolti dalla perdita del pallone d'oro, contestano lo storico tecnico e il predidente Glazer: "Siamo governati da due vecchi: abbiamo perso la coppa e ora il miglior giocatore del mondo"

Nella Manchester scippata di Ronaldo neppure Sir Alex è più al sicuro

Rabbia seria. E sanno anche con chi prendersela: "Glazer e Ferguson. Ci facciamo comandare da due vecchi ed ecco i risultati". Presidente e tecnico sulla graticola. Mai aveva Manchester reagito così brutalmente alla cessione di una star. Gli unici contenti sono quelli del City e i tifosi delle città satellite (Burnley, Bolton, Blackburn): "Per noi sono giorni di festa: prima la sconfitta contro il Barcellona, poi Ronaldo che scappa!".

In realtà Manchester è emotivamente paralizzata. A Deansgate, cuore della città, musi lunghi. Nell'entroterra, da cui affluisce una buona parte dei 75 mila abbonati dell'Old Trafford, nessuno sa spiegarsi il presente né, tantomeno, ipotizzare il futuro: "Questa decisione peserà sullo United". Anche se la partenza di Ronaldo era scontata (si stava concretizzando già lo scorso anno), i tifosi dei Red Devils non sopportano l'idea di veder sminuita la loro squadra. E' come aver perso due volte la finale di Champions: "Anzi, solo adesso quella sconfitta comincia ad avere un senso. Ci hanno ucciso due volte".

Quando partì Beckham, entrambe le parti (le stesse), Manchester e Real, erano contente. E lo era anche Beckham. Quando smise Cantona nessuno poteva farci nulla. Quando se ne andò Best il mondo intero sapeva che l'irlandese non aveva più cartucce da sparare per l'alto livello. Per non parlare dell'addio di Bobby Charlton. Keane, per quanto carismatico, non aveva i numeri del Pallone d'oro in carica.

Quindi il "botto" Ronaldo è un inedito assoluto. Non è stata cessione, bensì un delitto calcistico. Per questo anche la reazione del pubblico, per una volta, è stata molto poco "english": "Ferguson ha perso un'occasione per chiudere in bellezza", urlano dai blog. Oppure: "Era meglio se dava retta a sua moglie e se ne andava prima di affondare con tutta la nave". Parlano già di disastro, a Manchester. Del resto a poco serve consolarsi con gli eventuali sostituti del portoghese: "Non ce ne sono: Ronaldo rimane insostituibile", sentenziava ieri il Guardian. E tale resterà. Ferguson avrebbe a disposizione 80 mln di sterline per fare il mercato alla faccia del quasi 800 mln di debito che la gestione Glazer dovrà affrontare, almeno in parte, nei prossimi mesi per non irritare sino allo scollamento il governo inglese. Ma 80 mln per comprare chi? Ci sarebbe Benzema in pole position, ma appena ieri il presidente del Lione, Jean Michel Aulas, ha messo i freni al suo gioiello: "Parte solo se ci danno 68 mln di euro". Come dire tenerselo o quasi.

E gli altri? Possibile confortare i cuori spezzati con l'annuncio di Tevez? "L'argentino resta". Possibile farlo con l'arrivo del baby brasiliano Douglas Costa (18 mln al Gremio)? Possibile che sia Ribery il nuovo Ronaldo? Aguero dall'Atletico Madrid? Valencia del Wigan? Possibile? No di certo. Quella di Nani, l'altro portoghese dello United, alla luce dei fatti e dell'ansia che sta travolgendo l'Old Trafford, suona quasi come una battuta: "Prendo io il suo posto". Fosse matto?

La verità è che il Manchester era costruito su Ronaldo e senza di lui la squadra campione d'Inghilterra diventa improvvisamente una casa senza fondamenta: "Togli Gerrard al Liverpool e vedi che succede in città", tuonano senza pietà i fan delusi, imbestialiti. Ma anche offesi dal comportamento dei loro dirigenti. Il dissenso si può toccare con le mani. Sembra di tornare ai tempi del primissimo Glazer. Quando l'americano rilevò il club alcuni rimasero talmente schifati, si sentirono così disperati, da fondare un nuovo club: l'Fc United of Manchester. Non è escluso che qualcun altro, preda dello stesso marasma interiore, segua le stesse indicazioni, si conceda almeno un anno sabbatico e rifili una scoppola morale agli assassini di un sogno. "Ci hanno ferito mortalmente". E tifi così, tanto per ridere. Tanto per sfogarsi. Da lontano. Con rabbia. Rabbia seria.

Friday, June 12, 2009

FC United of Manchester are doing very well

Source: Daily Mirror

By Oliver Holt 13/05/2009

Read Oliver Holt's column every Wednesday on

FC United of Manchester was set up in the summer of 2005 by Manchester United supporters who could not stomach the takeover of their club by the Glazer family.

The sternest challenge was always going to be how the new club avoided turning into the commercially driven beast its fans had rebelled against as it rose through the league pyramid.

All the signs are that it's coping very well.

After three successive promotions, FC United are now in the Unibond Premier League but they are refusing to put up prices.

Advertisement - article continues below »

In fact, this summer the club will ask supporters to decide how much to pay for their season ticket based on what they can afford.

That is probably a first. If a few Premier League clubs had a fraction of this respect for their supporters, English football would have a lot more friends.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cantona: I would play for FC United

June 11, 2009

FC UNITED fans are in dreamland after reds legend Eric Cantona said that he would be prepared to play for the UniBond Premier Division side.

The king of Old Trafford repeated his fondness for the breakaway club, which is currently housed at Bury’s Gigg Lane ground, while publicising his film Looking For Eric in Manchester. And, coincidentally, FC now have a vacancy up front as striker Kyle Wilson has joined League Two outfit Macclesfield Town on a one-year deal.

Cantona said: "They (FC) have a great idea. I hope they will become a great club and win the European Cup in 50 years."

When asked whether he would be prepared to play for FC, the 43-year-old Frenchman gave his famous Gallic shrug and said: "Yes, why not?"

Andy Walsh, the general manager at FC, is thrilled at the prospect.

He said: "Eric Cantona was one of the best footballers ever to put on a football shirt, let alone a Man United one.

"It’s tremendous that he knows what FC United is all about and what we are trying to do. If he ever wanted to play for us, that would be great."

Cantona plays himself in Looking For Eric. The film touches upon the story of FC United and club bosses were involved in the project from the start, discussing ideas with writer Paul Laverty and director Ken Loach.

FC supporters even acted as extras.

Walsh added: "To have two people of such status as Eric Cantona and Ken Loach understand the issues of ordinary football fans and to support the club is to be cherished."

Meanwhile, Wilson has left FC just days after manager Karl Marginson nominated him for the Greater Manchester non-league player of the season award.

When putting the 22-year-old up for the award, Margy said: "It speaks volumes for Kyle that he missed the last three months of the season yet still ended up one of the UniBond Premier League’s top scorers with 24 goals.

"I shudder to think how many he’d have ended up with had he not been struck down by injury. But it wasn’t just his goals that made him stand out. His general play was also fantastic.

"It was a blow to us to lose him when we did and Kyle’s injury came at a time when a lot of Coca Cola league clubs were showing an interest in him."

Macc stepped up their interest in Wilson this week and the player, who has now recovered from the knee operation which sidelined him last season, could not turn down the offer of a full-time contract at a professional club.

Any FC fans who wish to vote for Wilson to win the Greater Manchester award should send an e-mail to: detailing why they think he is a worthy winner in 100 words or less. By doing so they have the chance of sharing £500 with the player, providing that he wins. But they must be available for the player of the year presentation.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

FC United of Manchester to launch stadium tender

Source: Design Week

Football Club United of Manchester is planning to launch an open tender to find designers or architects to create its first stadium and club facilities later this year.

The club, formed in 2005 by Manchester United FC supporters following that team’s controversial takeover by Malcolm Glazer, has identified a potential site and reports that it is working with a series of unnamed designers on initial proposals for a ‘sustainable stadium’.

Meanwhile, Manchester based Judge Gill says it is working up a design for a sustainable football stadium for a club in or around the city. The interior design group’s plans include an ‘expandable’, 7000-capacity stadium constructed from recycled freight containers and featuring roof-mounted solar panels.

‘The community aspect of this team and its supporters is very strong,’ says Judge Gill cofounder David Judge, who declines to name the club. Judge is hoping that his consultancy will be able to secure any upcoming contract to design the stadium ‘partly by virtue of our experience in commercial and retail design’.

Judge Gill designed the Manchester City FC Reebok City superstore in 2003. Semi-professional FC United of Manchester, which is owned by its supporters and plays in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, is undertaking a feasibility study for its stadium.

FC United board member Adam Brown reveals that it has approached two design and architect supporters - and an ‘environment and sustainable design group’ - to draw up separate proposals.

The club reports that it is ‘looking for the best value’, and is now seeking £6m-£8m in grants and contributions from supporters to fund the stadium’s design and build.

‘We are having a series of critical meetings over the next few weeks, after which we will launch an open tender to find architects or designers,’ says Brown. ‘So far, it is looking really positive that the project is going to go ahead,’ he adds.
The most environmentally friendly stadium in the UK belongs to Dartford Football Club. Designed by architect Urban Edge Studio, it features two man-made lakes that store rain for watering the pitch.


* Set up in 2005 by former Manchester United supporters, who left following Malcolm Glazer’s controversial takeover of MUFC
* Its supporters, who own the club, are known as The Red Rebels
* The club currently shares a stadium, Gigg Lane, with Bury FC

Stage set for Torpey

Source: Shropshire Star

Winger Steve Torpey is eager to get back on the “big stage” at AFC Telford United – and play his part in a major promotion challenge.

The 27-year-old has joined on a one-year contract from the Bucks’ Blue Square North rivals Stalybridge Celtic.

And he admits the bigger and more vocal support he is likely to encounter at the New Bucks Head played heavily in his decision.

Torpey has previously played for FC United of Manchester – a flourishing rebel club set up by disgruntled Manchester United fans – and revelled in the chance to perform in front of four-figure crowds.

“I was waiting to hear what was happening at Stalybridge and I was speaking to another couple of clubs, but once I knew Telford were interested I wanted to come here,” the ex-Liverpool trainee said.

“The fan base and the chance to play on the big stage again is probably the main factor.

“I wanted to play for a club that will be competing and trying to win the league or at least be up there.

“To play in front of 1,500 or 2,000 fans every other week is a big thing for me as well. I got a taste of that at FC United and that was probably the most enjoyable season of my career so far.

“I think Telford is run in a similar way to them and I can’t wait to get going.”

Torpey, who runs his own business, Major Sports Coaching, in Wigan, has primarily been signed to give Telford better delivery from the wings, but he also hopes to make an impact on the scoring charts as well.

“I do my best to chip in with the goals,” he added. “It’s one of my strengths – I’ve got an eye for goal and I don’t mind a long-range shot.”

Monday, June 08, 2009

SD Cup - 25 July

This year’s fixture between AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester on 25 July at the Cherry Red Records Fans Stadium – Kingsmeadow will be for the Supporters Direct Cup.

And SD and both clubs are making it an afternoon of fun, not just for the fans of both clubs, but for all supporters’ trusts.

Keep an eye out on the Supporters Direct website for more details in the run-up to the day.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ken Loach pulls focus on youth violence in Looking for Eric

Ken Loach aims to combat society of 'aggression, greed and acquisitiveness' in new film starring Eric Cantona as a mentor to a football fan struggling to save his sons from a life of guns and gangs

Ben Child

Friday 5 June 2009 12.42 BST

Film-maker Ken Loach was determined to show how guns and violence are destroying Britain's youth in his new film, Looking for Eric, he said yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference in London also attended by stars Eric Cantona and Steve Evets, along with screenwriter Paul Laverty, ahead of the film's UK release next weekend, Loach said the movie's gangland storyline was inspired by the growing prevalence of violence in the UK's inner cities.

"The issue of guns is a huge one," he said. "We've made a society which is built on aggression, on greed and acquisitiveness. We've destroyed the pattern of people becoming adults and we're now surprised when kids with no visible future want all the things that we're told we need and, of course, resort to violence and guns."

Looking for Eric centres on Manchester United fan Eric Bishop, who is struggling to keep his two sons away from a life of violence. One night, after smoking cannabis, his hero Cantona appears to him offering sage advice on how to solve his problems.

Laverty, Loach's regular screenwriter, said there was no way he could have ignored the issue of guns when writing about life in working-class Manchester.

"You have to be faithful to the premise and the characters," he said. "This wasn't just bolted on to the script to make it melodramatic. The film's main character, Eric Bishop, lives in a certain area in Manchester, and if you go to those areas, one of the biggest worries for many parents is what's happened to their teenage children. There is massive unemployment and a great problem with guns."

Cantona is played by himself in the film, which premiered at last month's Cannes film festival to positive reviews. The footballer said he made the approach to Loach.

"We wanted to make a film and the first name on our list was Ken," he said. "It was a dream for all of us when it happened."

He said playing himself in the film had not struck him as a particularly strange thing to do. "I am proud that they developed this part of my personality," he said. "It's not harder or easier to play a part of yourself. It's just another way to work."

Loach said he and Laverty had at first thought they were being wound up when told Cantona wanted to work with them.

"We thought it was a joke but it turned out to be true," he said. "Eric's idea was to make a film about his connection to the fans, which as you all know, is very special. We wondered for a while if we could pull this off because you can't just make a film because you admire someone's personality and their skill. There has to be a real core and content to the film. Then Paul wrote the character of Eric, and that was really the key that unlocked the narrative and the imaginary connection to Eric that's in the film."

Evets said his experiences making the film had inspired him to start attending football matches for the first time. He has become a fan of FC United, the non-league team founded by former fans of Manchester United.

"When I got the part, Ken gave me these DVDs of Eric's matches for research and I just loved seeing what he was able to do on the pitch," he said. "I can honestly say now I got to see FC United and it's just great therapy. We go there and shout and scream and it's such a liberating thing."

Looking for Eric
Release: 2009
Country: UK
Cert (UK): 15
Runtime: 116 mins
Directors: Ken Loach
Cast: Eric Cantona, Gerard Kearns, Lucy-Jo Hudson, Stefan Gumbs, Stephanie Bishop, Steve Evets

Friday, June 05, 2009

Looking For Eric? Try the Unibond!

June 05, 2009

ERIC Cantona is prepared to pull on a red shirt again.

The king of Old Trafford isn't about to rejoin United - but admitted his fondness for breakaway club FC United when in Manchester this week.

The French legend was attending the premiere of `Looking For Eric', the Ken Loach film in which he plays himself.

The film touches upon the story of FC United and club bosses were involved in the project from the beginning, discussing ideas with writer Paul Laverty and director Loach. FC supporters even acted as extras.

Cantona has been willing to show his support for FC, recently saying: "They have a great idea. I hope they will become a great club and win the European Cup in 50 years."

Asked whether he would be prepared to play for the Unibond side Premier League side, 43-year-old Cantona gave his famous Gallic shrug and said: "Yes, why not?"

Andy Walsh, general manager of FC United, was thrilled at the prospect.

He said: "To have two people of such status as Eric Cantona and Ken Loach understand the issues of ordinary football fans and support the club, is to be cherished.

"Eric Cantona was one of the best footballers ever to put on a football shirt, let alone a Man United one.

"It's tremendous that he knows what FC United is all about and what we're trying to do.

"If he ever wanted to play for us, that would be great!"

It may be 12 years since Cantona brought the curtain down on his five-year spell but it seems his love for Manchester remains undiminished.

He said: "It's always nice to be back in Manchester.

"I love the people here. That never fades. I come sometimes to watch the games. The fans are great."

Andy Walsh on 5Live Breakfast

BBC iPlayer link: (should work for a couple of weeks, Walsh comes on after 2hrs 42mins).

You might also listen to the FC bit here:

If you want to download an MP3 file of Andy Walsh's contribution, you may use this link (right-click the link, and choose "Save link as" - or similar, depends on your browser)...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Long live Eric - The new king of the silver screen

June 04, 2009

FOOTBALLING legend Eric Cantona swapped the red shirt of Manchester United for the red carpet as he returned to Manchester to see the UK premier of Looking For Eric – a film shot in and around south Manchester. And he told Susannah Wright that he could soon be back in the city wearing the shirt of the other United.

HE WON the hearts of a million (mainly Red) Mancunians during his five-year spell at Old Trafford – and now King Eric is back.

The man that many still call Le Dieu has long-since hung up his boots and shifted his focus to a different kind of performance, bringing the same kind of flair that once gripped the Theatre of Dreams to the silver screen.

Eric Cantona is the star of Looking For Eric, a new film shot at a number of locations in and around Chorlton; including South West Cricket Club on Ellesmere Road and a house on Keppel Road.

Cantona stars as an imaginary version of himself who becomes a guardian angel to a depressed postman called Eric Bishop, played by Steve Evets.

The film, produced by independent cinema legend Ken Loach, also starred a number of comedians who live in the suburb.

The film touches upon the story of FC United, the breakaway team founded by disillusioned Manchester United fans following the takeover by Malcolm Glazer in 2005.

FC United bosses were involved in the film from the beginning, discussing ideas with writer Paul Laverty and director Ken Loach. Many of the supporters also acted as extras in the film.

According to Loach, the film is about the joy of being a football supporter and the way that the commercialisation of the game has left many fans unable to afford Premier League tickets.

Cantona has been willing to show his support for FC, who are nicknamed the Red Rebels, and recently told a journalist: "They have a great idea. I hope they will become a great club and win the European Cup in 50 years." And when I cornered him on the red carpet at the UK premiere at Salford’s Vue cinema, he hinted he was willing to play a more active role in the club, even being prepared to play a match for the breakaway side.

Asked whether he would be prepared to play for the Unibond Premier League side, 43-year-old Cantona gave his famous Gallic shrug and said: "Yes, why not?"

It may be 12 years since Cantona brought the curtain down on his five year spell but it seems his love for Manchester – and especially its southern suburbs so dutifully served by your Reporter - remains undiminished.

He said: "It’s always nice to be back in Manchester. I love the people here. That never fades.

"I come sometimes to watch the games. The fans are great, there is a lot of humanity.

"And having the film’s premier here is very important, it is essential."

And while on the red carpet, Cantona revealed that he enjoyed his time filming in Chorlton, particularly at South West Manchester Cricket Club. He said: "It was great working at the cricket club, even when it was raining! People here have a lot of guts and a lot of heart. It is about teamwork. If you work hard as a team, you have confidence and you can enjoy it.

"That is all there in this movie. It’s unusual to capture that – they are nice people, nice, beautiful people, always a lot of solidarity, a lot of friendship.

"I was moved by their energy. I love this kind of thing because these days it’s unusual, solidarity, friendship. In the film, we can see that on the inside they are beautiful people."

The film was directed by an award-winning stalwart of British independent cinema, Ken Loach, whose credits include The Wind That Shakes The Barley, My Name Is Joe, Land And Freedom, Riff-Raff, and Kes.

The lead character, Eric Bishop, is a lonely dad struggling to cope with life and his two unruly teenage stepsons. He tries to make amends with Lily, the woman of his dreams that he once loved and walked out on many years ago.

And to help him deal with things, his postmen mates – played by a host of comedy actors including John Henshaw, Des Sharples, Justin Moorhouse – try to cheer him up and make him laugh.

But in desperate times, postman Eric smokes some cannabis and lets his mind wander for a bit of guidance from his hero, the footballing genius, Eric Cantona.

The notion of teamwork is integral to the film, with Eric Bishop’s mates all doing their bit to pull him out of the emotional mire he’s descended into.

The film gives Cantona the soon to be immortal line: "I am not a man, I am Cantona."

Director Ken Loach revealed why he chose the leafy south Manchester area to shoot some of the film. He said: "We picked Chorlton because it’s quite a mixed area.

"There are some lovely large houses and older properties and the cricket club was great. We ate there every day and it was really nice – how are they doing?"

Comedian Des Sharples – who comperes Mirth On Monday at Chorlton’s Iguana bar – was chosen to play the character of Jack after being invited for a chat with Ken Loach.

Des said: "I’m a Man City fan and I did say I’d never play a Man Utd fan, but everything outweighed that, with Eric and Ken Loach." Meanwhile, John Henshaw – best known for playing landlord Ken in sitcom Early Doors – plays Meatballs in the film. He said: "The humour is very northern, it has a warmth to it, and a lot of banter but it’s not humour at the expense of other people.

"It was nice filming in Chorlton, in fact my daughter used to live on Corkland Road. The people were very accommodating."

And comedian – and Manchester Evening News columnist – Justin Moorhouse who plays Spleen, joked: "Eric’s lovely – he’s gorgeous, and I’m a straight man!"

He added: "I watched a preview at Parrs Wood cinema and I had Alex Ferguson behind me with his popcorn, and I thought ‘Oh no, we’ve got the gaffer here’, but he loved it!"

But what of Eric’s prospects of getting a spot in the FC team next season?

Andy Walsh, general manager of FC United, was thrilled at the prospect. He said: "To have two people of such status as Eric Cantona and Ken Loach understand the issues of ordinary football fans and support the club, is to be cherished.

"Eric Cantona was one of the best footballers ever to put on a football shirt, let alone a Man United one. It’s tremendous that he knows what FC United is all about and what we’re trying to do.

"If he ever wanted to play for us, that would be great!"