Thursday, July 30, 2009

FC rally to win

July 30, 2009

FC UNITED set up a winner-takes-all clash with Bury after edging out Radcliffe Borough in the Newsquest Cup.

FC twice came from behind in an even contest at Stainton Park to win 3-2 and give themselves the chance to win the preseason friendly tournament at Gigg Lane.

Goals from Matthews, a penalty from Lomax and a fantastic side-footed finish from Ibrahim cancelled out strikes from Boro’s Wharton and Howson in front of 347 fans.

The Radcliffe win followed United’s 2-0 defeat at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, during which Adam Carden missed a penalty.

Despite being two leagues below their hosts, FC were far from outclassed and the red contingent among the 1,722 crowd left with high hopes for the coming season.

Bury 2 FC United 0

Source: Bury Times

10:13am Thursday 30th July 2009

BURY lifted the Newsquest Cup after a hard-fought victory against Gigg Lane tenants FC United last night.

Brian Barry-Murphy put the Shakers into a first half lead before striker Danny Carlton put the result beyond doubt when he slotted past Sam Ashton.

Bury beat tenants FC

Source: Manchester Evening News

Tony Glennon

July 30, 2009
LANDLORDS beat tenants as goals by Brian Barry- Murphy and Danny Carlton secured Bury a 2-0 victory over their non-League ground-sharers FC United in front of a Gigg Lane crowd of 1,144.

But this was no pre-season stroll for the slick Shakers, who were given a thorough work-out by Karl Marginson's UniBond League semi-pros in this the first friendly meeting of the clubs in three years.

Barry-Murphy gave Bury a dream start by blasting them in front at the second attempt after his initial free-kick had found its way back to him via the inside of a post.

Ben Deegan, FC's new signing from neighbours Ashton United, then brought a smart save from Cameron Belford.

Bury responded to boss Alan Knill's half-time promptings, although they had to wait until the 66th minute for the goal which finally killed off the part-timers.

Carlton made amends for an earlier miss by firing calmly past Sam Ashton.

Kids go free

Source: Tameside Advertiser

July 29, 2009

CHILDREN aged under 16 can watch Hyde United’s friendly against FC United at Ewen Fields on Saturday free of charge.

The scheme is part of a link-up between the club and the local authority as the Tigers conclude their pre-season programme against the UniBond Premier League outfit.

Tigers boss Neil Tolson has been busy over the summer, adding the likes of Lincoln Adams, Nathan D’Laryea, Paul Gedman, Michael Jones, Aidan Kirkbride, David McNiven, Scott Mooney and Robbie Smith to some of last season’s squad.

Aside from Tolson the 2008/09 squad members returning to Ewen Fields for the new campaign are Daniel Douglas Pringle, Gerry Harrison, Mark Lees, Chris Lynch, Tom Manship and Lee Rick.

Fellow Blue Square North side Stalybridge Celtic are also in action on Saturday when they travel to Ilkeston Town to play Worksop Town.

That will be followed by a friendly against Manchester City at Bower Fold on August 4, four days before their opening league game at Redditch United.

The Celts were in action against an Oldham Athletic youth development squad as the Advertiser went to press on Tuesday night.

They were hoping to continue the run of pre-season form that had seen them win 1-0 at a Buxton side managed by former Celtic boss John Reed.

That had been followed by a 0-0 draw at FC Halifax Town where the hosts included former Celts Paul Sykes, Steve Payne, Tom Baker and James Dean.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Match Of The Week: AFC Wimbledon 2-0 FC United of Manchester

As we walk into the bar at Kingsmeadow, something silver and shiny catches my attention in the corner of my eye. “It’s the FA Trophy!”, I squeal, “The real FA Trophy”. It takes a sharp prod to the rib cage to remind me that, sitting next to it, is the squatter but considerably shinier FA Cup. It’s carnival day in south-west London, the day of the Co-Operative Supporters Direct Cup match, an annual invitation match for supporters trust owned clubs, and this year - as it was two years ago this weekend - it’s Wimbledon and FC United doing the honours. The mutual respect and friendship is immense, but Wimbledon are starting to show United a clean pair of heels on the pitch.

The last time the two sides met Wimbledon were in the Ryman League Premier Division. Since then, they’ve managed two successive promotions and, for all the talk of a season of consolidation, they have become accustomed enough to success to be able to dream of challenging in the Blue Square Premier, even if they might not want to admit it to themselves just yet. United, on the other hand, stalled in the Unibond League Premier Division last season and missed out on the play-offs on the last day of the season. One might expect a side playing to average home crowds of 2,000 in what is effectively the regional seventh division of English football to be in a more powerful position than they are, but the eye-watering price of renting their temporary home - Bury’s Gigg Lane - and the fact that every spare penny is going into a ground development fund means that they compete, on the pitch at least, as equals.

Wimbledon, however, make slightly hard work of things, particularly in the first half. They push the United defence back and seem physically stronger, but the United defence isn’t playing this match as a friendly. They dig deep, get feet and bodies in the way and show a nice touch on the ball after a nervy looking start. Then came the big chance - Phil Marsh cut into the penalty area and was tripped by a clumsy tackle from Kennedy Adjei to give the visitors a penalty. Adam Carden, their Player of the Year last year, stepped up to take the kick, but his finish was poorly placed and predictable, and Wimbledon goalkeeper James Pullen saved comfortably. Half-time came with the scores goalless but Wimbledon still looking in pre-season mode - a sharper attack may have severely punished them.

Parity lasted barely fifteen minutes into the second half, and when it came it was with simplicity that was apposite for a match of this type - Chris Hussey drove a free-kick across the six yard area and Ben Judge tapped it, unmarked at the far post. Many of the travelling supporters could have been forgiven an inward sigh at this point. They travelled from Manchester to London two years ago and lost 2-0 - any pretence of football not being been a harsh mistress coming when United’s Marsh thumped a low free kick against the inside of the post. In the dying seconds, Luke Moore found himself little space on the right hand wide and whipped over a low cross for triallist Peter Rapson to roll the ball past the prone FC United goalkeeper Sam Ashton to wrap the game up.

After the match, the ceremonies and awards. The awarding of a cup gave this game a little more bite than most pre-season friendlies, and the addition of triallists - men who are playing for a job - meant that there weren’t many tackles that were being avoided. Again, though, the most notable thing on the menu this afternoon was the mutual respect between the two clubs, both of whom have much to look forward to. Wimbledon have their work cut out in the BSP, but will benefit from being newly-promoted into a league which may see more established clubs struggling with Setanta money that they may already have spent but definitely won’t receive. FC United, meanwhile, will continue to fight their battles both on and off the pitch. The Unibond League Premier Division remains a winnable league, but their biggest goal remains a home of their own.

To an extent, what was visible off the pitch was more important than anything that could have happened on it. With Notts County supporters choosing a get rich scheme over controlling their own destiny, Wycombe Wanderers being backed into a corner by their managing director Steve Hayes and Stockport County taken out of supporter ownership after falling into administration at the end of last season, this match was a timely reminder that it doesn’t have to be bad news all of the time and a pleasing diversion from the increasingly dispiriting circus that seems to follow the game around each summer.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Judge and Rapson on target for Dons

Source: South London Press

Sunday, 26 July 2009

By Steve Bourke at Kingsmeadow

AFC Wimbledon 2 FC United of Manchester 0

GOALS, let alone wins, have been as easy to find as Tamiflu at Kingsmeadow so far this pre-season, yet AFC Wimbledon boss Terry Brown was less than enthused about his sides two-goal victory on Saturday.

The Dons reclaimed the Supporters Direct Cup as second half goals from captain Ben Judge and 17-year-old Peter Rapson ensured a 2 – 0 triumph over old foes FC United of Manchester.

A tame first half, which saw James Pullen produce a spectacular penalty save, was followed by a more rigorous second 45 minutes from the home side.

Ricky Wellard was the only new recruit in a strong and familiar starting 11. But Brown was quick to praise the impact of his second half substitutes, among them, trialist centre forward Calum Willock.

For a full match report and Brown’s thoughts - buy the South London Press on Tuesday.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Set your own price at FC United

Friday 24 July ~

Football clubs have tried all sorts of schemes to boost attendances so they might consider borrowing an idea from a certain Unibond League club. In a bid to reverse consecutive annual financial losses and to help out cash-strapped supporters, FC United, the fan owned club formed in 2005 by disaffected Manchester United followers, have introduced a “Pay what you can afford” season ticket policy for 2009-10.

This summer FC supporters were invited to choose their price in the hope of the club raising upwards of £125,000, a figure that would help cover their substantial operating costs, including the £80,000 annual rent of Bury’s Gigg Lane ground, and cut recent worrying deficits. As the club acknowledge, they could not “continue to incur [the] losses” they had suffered over the past two years, nor could they continue to rely on additional donations from generous fans on top of £10 memberships and season tickets. For this season’s scheme a minimum price of £90 was set - approval had to be sought from the club to pay any less - with the club recommending people pay £140, the cost last year.

Happily, then, as the new season approached the target was all but reached – £110,000 by the end of last month, likely surpassed soon after. “Amazing... we've broken the £100,000 pledge barrier” exclaimed one of the club‘s many Twitter updates in July. The offer has allowed FC to remain faithful to their philosophy of “providing affordable football”, while crucially now being able to operate on a sounder financial footing, particularly as plans for a new stadium nearer the centre of Manchester progress. Overall it highlights two satisfactions of the supporter-owned model that governs the club.

First, how an innovative approach to an often sensitive issue has been provided by an elected, and therefore fan representative, board – making the game more accessible to supporters in the process. Scarborough Athletic, the club formed by fans two years ago following the demise of Scarborough FC, also have the same policy for their season tickets this year. Not surprising, according to Kevin Rye of Supporters Direct: “It’s no coincidence that supporter-owned clubs like FC United and Scarborough are pioneering the really innovative ideas. From the start both have been at the forefront of making football affordable. This is an idea, during difficult financial times, that’s innovative, radical and right.” Sadly, no club in the Football League has followed suit, though 19 games at Blackburn Rovers will cost from only £199 this year for adults.

Second, it represents a refreshing level of transparency in FC’s operations. In contrast to other clubs who reveal their season-ticket prices without any consultation with supporters, FC featured a season-ticket revenue barometer on their website providing interested parties with a frequently updated running total – the virtual equivalent to a rain-sodden wooden gauge hammered unevenly into a hospital lawn. Doubtless for some it added exciting drama to the close season.

There is a precedent for this approach. In 2007-08 Bradford City experimented with reduced season ticket prices, subscribing to the notion that cheaper seats - £138 per adult - would lead to increased sales and a fuller stadium. It worked: 8,694 average attendance in 2006-07 before the reduction, 13,735 after, even in a lower division. And last year Huddersfield Town sold adult tickets for as low as £100 as part of their centenary celebrations. Though some of course continue to increase their prices: Manchester United, for instance, will cost around £20 more in 2009-10. But nothing has been as bold as FC and AFC Scarborough’s offer.

Despite the ill feeling sometimes directed towards FC United – recently from Richard Scudamore, chairman of the Premier League who wrongly suggested that they were more expensive to watch than Bolton Wanderers – the club continue to demonstrate their value to the modern game in this country. Tom Whitworth

Far east trip ends in defeat for FC

July 23, 2009

FC UNITED'S first ever trip to the far east ended in disappointment on Saturday as they lost 3-0 to fellow fans-owned club Bucheon FC 1995 in South Korea.

Despite the scoreline, FC, who leaked two late goals, put in a decent performance against an experienced side.

They were playing another pre-season friendly at Irlam FC as the Advertiser went to press last night, Wednesday, July 22.

This coming week’s games see FC travel to AFC Wimbledon for a Co-operative SD Cup clash on Saturday, July 25, kick-off 3pm, before playing Newsquest Cup matches at Radcliffe Borough on Monday, July 27, kick-off 7.45pm, and against Bury at Gigg Lane on Wednesday, July 29, kick-off 7.45pm.

Meanwhile, FC have been drawn at Sheffield, Flixton or Winsford in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup on Saturday, September 12.

They will visit Ashton United in the first qualifying round of the FA Trophy on Saturday, October 17, and their Northern Premier League Premier Division campaign will start at home to Boston United on Saturday, August 15, and end at home to Hucknall Town on Saturday, April 14, 2010.

League fixtures in full:

August 15, Boston United at home;
August 17, Bradford Park Avenue away;
August 22, Retford United away;
August 26, Marine at home;
August 29, Burscough at home;
August 31, Ossett Town away;
September 5, Kendal Town away;
September 9, Whitby Town at home;
September 15, Matlock Town away;
September 19, Guiseley at home;
September 23, Worksop Town away;
October 3, Stocksbridge Park Steels at home;
October 7, Nantwich Town at home;
October 10, Kings Lynn away;
October 14, Frickley Athletic at home;
October 27, North Ferriby United away;
November 7, Buxton at home;
November 14, Hucknall Town away;
November 21, Durham City at home;
November 28, Kendal Town at home;
December 5, Whitby Town away;
December 12, Matlock Town at home;
December 19, Guiseley away;
December 26, Ashton United away;
January 1, Ossett Town at home;
January 9, Boston United away;
January 16, Bradford Park Avenue at home;
January 23, Stocksbridge Park Steels away;
February 3, Worksop Town at home;
February 6, Nantwich Town away;
February 13, Kings Lynn at home;
February 20, Frickley Athletic away;
March 6, Buxton away;
March 20, North Ferriby United at home;
March 31, Retford United at home;
April 2, Marine away;
April 7, Ashton United at home;
April 10, Burscough away;
April 17, Durham City away;
April 24, Hucknall Town at home.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

AFC Wimbledon get ready to 'right a wrong'

Source: The Independent

By Michael Walker

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Kingston upon Thames is not a location associated with football diehards but there will be around 3,000 energised spectators at the Kingsmeadow stadium this afternoon for a pre-season meeting between the two most high-profile supporter-run start-up clubs in England: AFC Wimbledon (founded 2002) and FC United of Manchester (founded 2005).

The occasion is the Supporters Direct Cup, a friendly event with a barbecue and fund-raising auction in a week when the Chelsea captain, John Terry, who lives not far from Kingston, decides whether to accept an annual salary of around £10m from Manchester City – or £7.5m from Chelsea.

It is a reminder that there is life beyond the Premier League and beyond the skyscraper finance that sees Manchester United carry a debt estimated at £700m. As Kevin Rye of Supporters Direct, the body that helps facilitate fan takeovers of clubs, said: "The people of the two clubs meeting tomorrow are running football clubs, not multimillion pound corporations."

Rye made the point that achievement at clubs run by fans is not to be measured solely in progress on the pitch – "holistic" is the approach.

Erik Samuelson, AFC Wimbledon's chairman, agreed. Samuelson used the word "lovely" to describe his club. "If we hadn't been idealistic and romantic," he added, "we wouldn't have started this. But as we grow, it's about how we keep that culture."

Seven years after seeing the Football Association enable the old Wimbledon to move to Milton Keynes, the breakaway club is four promotions on.

This coming season AFC Wimbledon are in the Blue Square Premier division. Another promotion and they will be in the Football League, another step closer to "righting the wrong" of losing their original club. Relegated Luton Town are the opening-day visitors to Kingston. It is a 4,700 sell-out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sugar-daddy or supporters - who do you want to run your club?

Source: Telegraph

By Paul Kelso July 23rd, 2009
Paul Kelso is the Telegraph's Chief Sports Reporter.

Who would you prefer to own your football club? A well-meaning group of supporters committed to ensuring that the club survives in perpetuity, or an anonymous investor with deep pockets ready to pump money into the club in return for a profit, but offering no guarantee as to their long-term intentions?
At Meadow Lane, the new home of Sven Goran Eriksson and venue for the most remarkable story of the close season, supporters who battled to save their club from the wreckage of a previous glitzy buy-out have just chosen the latter.
Their decision is, at face value a blow for the supporters’ trust model, a system of ownership that many believe offers clubs, particularly those in the lower leagues, an alternative to boom-and-bust and the reliance on sugar-daddies and investors whose motives are not always transparent.
Until last week Notts County was owned and run by a trust. It took control of the club in 2003, rescuing it with the help of a local benefactor from an 18-month period in administration that threatened its existence.
As is usually the case with supporter-led takeovers it was a long and gruelling battle, led by highly committed individuals who were successful only because of the support of fans locally and around the country, many of who dipped into their own pockets to save the club.
The trust inherited a mess of unpaid debts and unhappy creditors, most of the dating from a previous takeover led by American journalist Albert Scardino, husband of Dame Marjorie, chief executive of the Pearson Group that owns the Financial Times, whose brief sally into English football was well-meaning but ultimately unsuccessful.
As is often the case the supporters were the last people standing, and set about rescuing what they could from the wreckage. Adopting the trust model, a system of mutual ownership intended to give supporters a democratic voice in the running of their club, they tried to make the most of a bitter inheritance.
It has not been an easy road, with the strain of running a club burdened by debt eventually causing divisions between trust members and a public falling out between factions within the club. In this climate the arrival of Munto Finance, whoever they may be, waving a bank guarantee, was too good to resist and an overwhelming majority of trust members voted to accept their offer.

In a remarkable show of faith the trust handed over its 61% stake in the club for nothing, as well as writing off a £170,000 loan, the product of a thousand collection buckets and fundraisers.

On the face of it the decision to choose anonymous financiers over collective ownership is a blow for the trust model. Dave Boyle, chief executive of Supporters Direct, the body that promotes mutual ownership of clubs, says the underlying reasons are football’s crash-and-burn economics.
“The difficulty we have with most of the clubs that have become fully trust-owned is that many of them are picking up the pieces after a disaster,” he says. “Those that have started from scratch like AFC Wimbledon and FC United are doing brilliantly, but others like Chesterfield, York City, Exeter City and Notts County have inherited a basket case and that is tough.
“Exeter City were lucky, they drew Manchester United in the FA Cup and that gave them a windfall that cleared the debts and gave them a fresh start. Others have not been so fortunate, and the reality is that trusts often have to spend the majority of their time dealing with the mistakes of previous regimes. That can take its toll, so it is not a surprise that when individuals come along offering a way out they are tempted, but investors are generally not charitable.”
Critics of the trust model will cite Notts County as evidence that collective ownership can never compete with clubs run by executives working in a more traditional business structure. Boyle counters that the two are not mutually exclusive.
“We have always said our favoured model is Trust-owned, professionally run. Supporters should own the club and then find the best executives they can afford to run it. That remains the ideal for us. It offers clubs sanity and stability at a time when there is unease about the way money is affecting the game.”
At Meadow Lane they are about to discover first-hand which model works best.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Supporter-owned teams meet for historic match

July 21, 2009

FC United, on the left in blue, and Bucheon FC, on the right in red, sit for a snapshot just before their game on Saturday in Bucheon, Gyeonggi. Bucheon FC and FC United played a soggy game in the rain that day that ended with a 3-0 win for Bucheon, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the players. Provided by the organizer

On Saturday night, 25,000 spectators braved the heavy rain to take in a friendly football match featuring Park Ji-sung in Bucheon, Gyeonggi. But the fans weren’t there to watch the Korean national team captain and Manchester United player. They were there to cheer on another man with the same name - a midfielder for the semiprofessional squad Bucheon FC.

This Park Ji-sung doesn’t play football full-time on a multimillion-dollar contract, like his more famous counterpart. Instead, Park spends just part of his time living out his dream of playing football and spends the rest working late shifts as a delivery man for a restaurant specializing in jokbal, or steamed ham hock.

The match - the World Football Dream Match 2009, sponsored by SK Telecom - was a historic first. It was the first meeting between Asian and Western supporter-owned teams. Teams that adhere to the supporter-owned system are semiprofessional and receive the majority of their funding from fans rather than corporate sponsorship.

The host, Bucheon FC, plays in the K3, the lowest tier in Korean football. Its opponent, FC United of Manchester, is a team in the North West Premier League Division, the seventh tier of league football in England.

“It’s an exciting experience for us. I’ve been a Bucheon supporter since the beginning but having moved to Cheonan, South Chungcheong, I couldn’t come to any games last season,” 28-year-old office worker Jung Jae-kyung said. “I’m back this year and it’s a surreal feeling as a fan to finally experience a game like this.”

With a steady rain falling throughout most of the game, Bucheon FC started strong and was ahead in the first half. The Korean team’s captain, Park Mun-ki, scored the opening goal on a header off a corner kick in the 29th minute to a roar of approval. In the second half, FC United controlled the pace of the game before allowing two late goals with less than 10 minutes remaining.

But the final score didn’t dampen the spirit of camaraderie circulating among the players. They exchanged shirts midfield and trotted to the west end of the stadium, where the Bucheon FC supporters, who call themselves the Hermes. gave both squads a round of applause.

Most of the stadium was filled with first-time visitors. A large number of fans stayed well past the final whistle.

Some gushed at the level of play and stated they would be back for more, but the most excited fans by far were the Bucheon FC supporters Approximately 300 of the 1,000 Hermes remained standing from beginning to end, chanting and cheering both teams on.

The supporters and the environment around here are great.’ Bucheon FC midfielder Kim Tae-ryu

‘Our club is about the supporters and what’s important to them.’ FC United General Manager Andy Walsh

Given that the K-League’s most popular club, Gangwon FC, averages 16,330 spectators per game, the attendance figure of 23,000 meant the match was a rousing success.

Choi Woong-yong, a 34-year-old office worker in Bucheon, shared his excitement.

“We once had a club, but we lost it,” Choi said, referring to the Bucheon SK, a professional club in the K-League that was moved to Seogwipo, Jeju in 2006. The creation of Bucheon was a direct response to this move. “Bucheon has the financial stability to support a football club. I hope we can experience many more games like this in the future.”

Bucheon FC and FC United are just two of only four football clubs in the world that are supporter-owned. The others include AFC Wimbledon and FC Yokohama.

“It wasn’t easy, we had nothing when we started off. We asked city officials for support but they weren’t willing to listen,” the team’s media relations manager Lee Yoo-guk said. “The city required us to have sponsors and that wasn’t easy. We went back and forth, bouncing between reluctant sponsors and city officials for six months until a regional politician stepped in and gave us the support we needed [in 2007].”

The club participated in its first season in the K3 in the 2008 season as the only supporter-created football club in Korean history. They finished 13th out of 15 teams with a record of seven wins, seven ties and 15 losses. The team is currently sitting in seventh place and, backed by its 1,000 supporters, clearly has its sights set on bigger goals.

Bucheon FC and FC United players have dinner together at the Mayfield Hotel in Gimpo, Gyeonggi, on Friday. Provided by Bucheon FC

“We have a 10-year plan. Within five years, we want to move up to the National League [second tier] and within 10 years, we want to be in the K-League,” Lee said.

Bucheon FC and its supporters actually got the inspiration to create the team from FC United.

FC United supporters can trace their original allegiance to Manchester United. Many Man U fans, already disgruntled with the club’s high ticket prices, walked away when Malcolm Glazer took over the club in 2005 and launched FC United as a supporter-owned club. Sticking to its founding principles, FC United lets its fans pay what they can for season tickets.

“It’s affordable for the fans and provides for a great experience. It’s not affordable to take in Premiership games anymore,” FC United supporter Mike Bibby explained.

It’s not all about representing the community and providing entertaining and affordable football for the fans. Having started in England’s lowest division, the 10th, FC United has climbed up to the seventh tier on the back of its attendance records, the strongest in the division.

The English football system has a relegation system that connects the Premiership all the way down to the 10th division. The bottom three teams are relegated to lower tiers and top three teams from the league below are promoted to replace them. The club regularly averages over 2,000 fans in a division with teams that often attract small crowds of 300.

“Our most immediate goal is to raise funds to build our own stadium and improve our community work. The amount of community work we have done has improved by as much as 150 percent over the past three years,” Walsh said.

The players that fill the Bucheon FC roster are like underdogs gnawing at a chance for redemption. There is a countless number of players who, like Park Ji-sung, sacrifice their time and energy for the chance to play football. They’re a throwback to an era when representing the community and having the opportunity to play the game with passion meant more to players than inflated salaries, egos and the ridiculous endorsements that come with recognition and stardom.

Unfortunately, the pay is not enough to allow the players to make it on football alone, and all of them hold down part-time jobs to get by. Both Bucheon FC and FC United players make anywhere from $200 to 900 per game depending on their game performance and level of effort.

But most players have a solid track record and either have experience in the K-League or abroad.

Mputu Kakkgr Jersy, or Kaka, is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who has played semipro football in Korea for the past five years, despite restrictions that limit foreign players from participating in league games.

Kim Tae-ryu, a 27-year-old midfielder, has played in Korea’s top professional league and in one of the country’s best university football programs. The Korea University graduate played for the Chunnam Dragons of the K-League for a year before he was sidelined by an injury. He is currently taking graduate school courses and hopes to work in football administration. He is carrying out his two years of mandatory military service by doing administrative work.

“I’ve been playing football for a long time, but the supporters and the intimate environment around here are great,” Kim said. “There aren’t many stories out there like Bucheon FC. The history of the club, albeit brief, is moving.”

Team Captain Park Mun-ki is another 27-year-old former Chunnam player. Having scored the opening goal in Saturday’s match, Park was named the game’s most valuable player. He anchors the team’s defense and played in the professional league in Singapore until last year.

“This place has a great familial environment. Some have reservations about the K3, but the level of play is not much lower than that of other football leagues,” Park said.

The same can be said about FC United players. Jerome Wright is a 23-year-old midfielder for FC United. Off the pitch, he works as an administrator.

“We have some builders, delivery guys and college students on our squad,” Wright said. “We’ve been together for the past four years, and practice three times a week in the evening and play two games a week. We have played in Sweden and Germany, but it’s our first time in Korea and it’s so different from what we’re accustomed to. It’s great.”

Bucheon FC has modeled itself after the dedication and commitment shown by FC United. That’s refreshing for sports fans who long to root for the game of football and what it truly stands for.

“We do not have any sponsors and we do not have a corporate logo on our jersey. The jersey is the symbol of the club and it is not for sale,” explained the team’s General Manager Andy Walsh. “Our club is about the supporters and what’s important to them. All the revenue raised from the merchandise and fund-raising activities goes to support the team.”

By Jason Kim []

Friday, July 17, 2009

FC United set for Korean battle

Source: Prestwich Advertiser

July 16, 2009

FC UNITED will set off to South Korea today (Thursday )to play fellow fans-owned club Bucheon FC 1995 in a pre-season friendly.

Bucheon FC 1995 were formed in 2007 when their club Bucheon SK was taken over, moved to an island off the south coast and had their name changed to Jeju United.

Not surprisingly with a story like that, Bucheon FC 1995 have forged a friendship with AFC Wimbledon and it is through that link that FC received an invitation to play in South Korea.

Bucheon FC 1995 officials have said that they expect a crowd of up to 20,000 for the match on Saturday, July 18.

And FC will go into the game buoyed by a 4-1 victory at Leek Town.

Saturday’s pre-season win represented a trip down memory lane for FC with around 300 fans returning to the scene of the club’s first competitive game almost four years ago.

Who could have predicted back then that the new club’s journey would take in three promotions in the first three seasons, lifting FC United into the Northern Premier League Premier Division, where they narrowly missed out on a play-off place last season?

Saturday’s game kicked off FC’s preparations for another shot at promotion and manager Karl Marginson said: "I knew what to expect from playing non-league football and what it would take for us to make progress. But for a lot of the fans it was the start of something completely new.

"What I remember most about that visit to Leek in 2005 was the rain – the weather was rotten – and the fact that they had to delay the game by half-an-hour to get all of our fans in.

"It was the dawn of a tremendous time for us and coming back was a reminder for us of how far we have come in the last four years."

FC’s line-up on Saturday featured four members of FC’s first competitive starting XI – Steve Spencer, Tony Coyne, Joz Mitten and Adie Orr.

But the game got off to the worst possible start for Marginson’s men. Goalkeeper Phil Priestley dithered in possession and allowed Dan Cope to charge down his clearance as the ball cannoned into the net off the youngster’s shin.

After that, it was plain sailing for the visitors.

Orr levelled with a diving header from Ben Morris’ cross midway through the first period.

In the second half, Ben Deegan netted twice from close range and completed his hat-trick late on at the third attempt after his spot kick had been saved.

At the other end, Sam Ashton saved Adam Brindle’s spot kick to deny Leek a second.

Meanwhile, the money accumulated from FC’s unique season ticket pledges scheme, which sees fans pay what they can afford for a season ticket as opposed to paying a set price, has now passed the £100,000 mark.

And, with there being several weeks to go before the start of the season, the club are well on track to reach their £125,000 target.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A tale of two Uniteds

Asia is accustomed to hosting teams from Europe. Every summer sees big clubs from the west heading east to play exhibition games in attempts to win new fans and conquer new markets.

The likes of Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Roma and Juventus have all paid visits to the world's largest continent in recent years. After all, over half of the planet's soccer fans call Asia home.

There is something slightly special happening this month, however, with two teams from Manchester visiting the Land of the Morning Calm. One is English champion, European Champions League runner-up, FIFA Club World Cup winner and all-round general behemoth, Manchester United. The other is a fan-led team just four years old, and is in England's seventh tier.

The English champions have won 18 domestic and three continental titles and are one of the biggest, if not the biggest, clubs in the world. They also boast one of Korea's favorite sporting stars, Park Ji-sung.

United are in action on July 24 against K-League club FC Seoul at Seoul World Cup Stadium in a game that is a 64,000 seat sell-out.

Six days before that however, a team from England's seventh tier is in action against one from Korea's third division. FC United of Manchester faces Bucheon 1995. FC United was formed in 2005 by disillusioned fans of Manchester United. These followers took action after the club was taken over by American businessman Malcolm Glazer in 2005, another stage in what was, according to these supporters, a move away from the club's Manchester roots and fan-base.

FC United is run "by the fans for the fans." Starting all the way down in England's tenth tier, the club has climbed up to the seventh rung of the ladder and is regularly watched by 3,000 fans. Ahead of next season, the club announced on its website recently that each fan could choose what they paid for the season ticket that will grant entry to all home games. The same home page could also hardly contain its excitement at the all-expenses-paid trip to Korea. "This is an amazing opportunity for FC United and we're honored to be able to feature in a game against a fans-owned club with similar founding principles to our own," it said.

As the site says, Bucheon 1995 was also set up by fans whose club was literally taken away. SK Bucheon FC was a K-league team that had been struggling in the lower reaches for some years. Those fans woke up one morning in February 2006, a month before the start of the new season, to find that owners SK Energy, an arm of the giant SK conglomerate, had decided to move the club to the southern island of Jeju. This new team, Jeju United, was to utilize the last of the vacant stadiums built for the 2002 World Cup. It hasn't exactly been a successful move, and the island incantation of the team has fared little better in terms of points collected and fans attracted.

But the fans left behind channeled their anger into setting up their own club. It wasn't an easy process but it has been handled skillfully and professionally. The club is in Korea's K-3 League and has sponsorship deals and media exposure that most of its rivals can only dream of, with deals with media portal Daum and SK Telecom.

The match with FC United, which takes place at Bucheon Sports Complex Stadium on July 18, is an interesting one. As of July 12, 15,000 tickets had been sold and between 20-25,000 are expected on the night.

At the very least, it will be a fun night for all involved and a great opportunity for lower league English players to play a match in East Asia. And if it raises profiles as well as questions as to how the beautiful game operates in the respective countries, so much the better.


By John Duerden /Contributing writer

Now 'the other United' target Asia

Source: The Guardian

FC United of Manchester players and fans, celebrating winning the North West Counties League, now have something else to celebrate - playing in Asia. Photograph: Christopher Thomond

The supporters-run FC United of Manchester are playing in South Korea in the same week as the Premier League champions

In the huge Homeplus supermarket inside Seoul's World Cup stadium, a middle-aged woman pays for her shopping with a Manchester United credit card, one of 1.2m such pieces of plastic in South Korea. The woman is one of an estimated six million Red Devils in the Land of the Morning Calm which is why, on 24 July, the Premier League champions will be in action just a few dozen feet away against FC Seoul in the third of four matches of their 2009 Asian tour.

It is a 64,000 sell-out with 20,000 tickets being snapped up inside the first hour. This is United's fifth such tour in the past decade. For Asian fans, seeing the team these days is not unusual. But on 18 July, another Manchester team has a friendly in South Korea. FC United of Manchester are playing the third division club Bucheon 1995. The prospect is an intriguing one.

For FC United, formed in 2005 after the Malcolm Glazer takeover by disaffected Manchester United fans and now playing in the seventh-tier mouthful that is the Northern Premier League Premier Division, pre-season Asian exhibitions are the kinds of things that Glazer would approve of. But FC United deny that the match with fellow fan-operated team Bucheon 1995 is like "Big United's" tour.

"I think the reasons for our respective trips are a little different," the FC United spokesman, Julian Spencer, said. "Most clubs visit the far east to 'promote the brand', they are trips exclusively designed to make money. We want to show that this 'model' of how to structure a football club has worldwide merit. Also we want to give our players an opportunity of a lifetime to play overseas in front of what we hope will be a large, noisy, passionate local support."

It should be that, as long as Korea's rainy season, currently in full flow, doesn't put a dampener on proceedings. Bucheon, with players named Park Ji-sung and Kaka, look good on paper and the 20-25,000 fans should certainly sound good. And while it may not be broadcast on primetime network television like the other match, it has been widely promoted and FC United's match will be shown live on one of the country's biggest sports cable networks and on outdoor screens in nearby Seoul.

The Red Rebels have come a long way from setting up their club amid the feeling that Manchester United were being taken away from their traditional fanbase. It was not just a feeling among Bucheon supporters – it was a cold, hard fact. The Koreans woke up one morning in February 2006 to find that their club had been relocated overnight. Then, top-flight SK Bucheon FC were preparing for another season when SK Energy, the oil-arm of SK, one of South Korea's largest conglomerates and one of a number of businesses to own Korean teams, suddenly moved the team 300 miles south to the island of Jeju to occupy the last vacant 2002 World Cup stadium.

"When SK did that, we felt that our family had abandoned us. We couldn't believe it," said Bucheon 1995's unpaid marketing manager, Shin Dong-min. In response, Bucheon fans formed their own team and are now in South Korea's third tier – the K3 league. It has taken money to do so, much of which came from a sponsorship deal with SK Telecom. The same company is also footing the bill for this friendly, although Bucheon had to compete against other parties for the opportunity.

As part of a nationwide marketing campaign roughly translated as "make your dreams come true", people were invited to ask SK to do just that. The female high school students who wanted a famous boy band to become their teachers for a day were disappointed as these corporate Jimmy Savilles plumped for Bucheon's idea. Originally AFC Wimbledon were the desired opposition. The Londoners were busy, leaving, in the words of Shin, just "one other club that fit the bill".

"At first, we thought it was a joke," said FC United's general manager, Andy Walsh, at a pre-match press conference in Seoul today attended by more than 40 reporters and several television crews. "We heard about it from AFC Wimbledon but Ivor Heller [commercial director] there has a reputation for practical jokes so we phoned someone else there to find out if it was true. The board then discussed with the manager to see if it was something he wanted to do as part of a pre-season training. He was very positive and we are very honoured to be here."

Bucheon are also honoured. They are also too excited to dwell on where the money that is funding the game comes from. "I admit that it is strange that after what happened in 2006, SK are paying but there are many arms of SK," Shin said. "The company that managed and moved Bucheon SK was SK Energy. SK Telecom is a different company and these days are keen to help grassroots football. It doesn't matter what level we play at, we just want our own club to cheer. If the devil offered money, we would take it."

AFC Wimbledon to compete in SD Cup

Source: Richmond and Twickenham Times

10:34am Thursday 16th July 2009

For the first time in its seven-year history, the SD Cup will have a title sponsor, with the Co-operative putting their name to the trust movement’s own invitational cup competition.

Going head-to-head in the game on 25 July will be AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester, at The Fans’ Stadium – Kingsmeadow, kick-off 3pm.

Co-operative spokesperson Simon Plunkett said, “As a mutual, Supporters’ Direct has principles which are very closely aligned with our own. It has a democratic approach and a commitment to the communities that its teams are part of. Football is hugely important to many communities, providing a sense of cohesiveness and the thrill of sharing in your club’s fortunes. We at the Co-operative are absolutely delighted to be sponsoring the Supporters Direct Cup this year”

SD Chief Executive Dave Boyle said, “We’re extremely pleased and very fortunate to have secured the Co-operatives’ sponsorship for this match. It’s a very welcome extension of our partnership with many areas of the co-operative movement”

FC United were also recent winners of Co-opsUK’s Co-operative Values and Principles award The Cup has been competed for previously by AFC Wimbledon, League One side Brentford, Enfield Town and Cambridge City – all clubs that are owned or operated by their supporters.

Other events are being planned for the day, and fans are advised to get there early to take advantage of what will be an exciting fixture.

Further information about the fixture and the events on the day will be released in the run up to the match.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

FC primed for Korean test

3:37pm Wednesday 15th July 2009

By Liam Chronnell

FC United are set to play in front of 20,000 supporters as part of their Far East adventure.

The Rebels will take on fellow fan-owned club Bucheon FC 1995 in South Korea on Saturday.

Karl Marginson’s side kicked off their pre-season campaign with a 4-1 win over Leek CSOB over the weekend at Harrison Park — the scene of their first competitive game nearly four years ago — thanks to a hat-trick from new signing Ben Deegan.

FC will play either Sheffield, Flixton or Windsford in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup on Saturday, September 12. In the FA Trophy, they will meet Deegan’s former club Ashton United on Saturday, October 17.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Returning Home & New Homes

In non-league football, things are moving and plans are afoot. It looked for some time as if we were heading for a rash of grounds being sold, demolished and converted into luxury apartments. Indeed, over the last ten years we have lost some of the best known non-league grounds, including Hendon’s Claremont Road, Scarborough’s Seamer Road, Aylesbury United’s Buckingham Road, Enfield’s Southbury Road, Slough Town’s Wexham Park and Edgware Town’s The White Lion. There are plenty more, of course. Probably too many to mention. It’s not all doom and gloom, though. You get enough of that on here. This evening, we’re going to take a quick look at four clubs that look as if they may be moving into new facilities or returning home in the next couple of years or so.

Slough Town: The falling into disrepair of Slough Town’s Wexham Park became a symbol for the interminable wrangling between clubs and landlords which often threatens to drive clubs to the wall. Slough were evicted from Wexham Park in 2003 and have been trying to find a permanent new home since then, managing to share a ground at Windsor & Eton and Beaconsfield SYCOB as they tumbled down the divisions and out of the Southern League altogether. Last season (after being reprieved thanks to the collapse of Halifax Town) they stabilised somewhat in the Southern Division One South & West, and there was further good news for the club this week with the announcement that they have the full support of their local council to build a new 3,000 capacity stadium on the outskirts of the town, along with eighty-one houses. They will now submit a full planning application before the end of this year, but there is quiet optimism that after six years (and counting) of a nomadic existence, they could soon be returning home.

Scarborough Athletic: The old Scarborough ground at Seamer Road is another that continues to sit and rot. Follwing the collapse of Scarborough FC in 2007, two clubs - Town and Athletic - have emerged, with Athletic (who owned and run by their supporters trust) being the homeless ones. Town played in the amateur Wearside League but in a ground within the town, while Athletic were forced to play their home matches twenty miles away from home at Bridlington Town. With Seamer Road now in a state of disrepair that seems to preclude its use in the forseeable future, Athletic have been looking for a home of their own back in Scarborough for some time, but their search may also be appoaching an end. They confirmed a deal last week to ground-share with Town at the Pindar Sports College, back in Scarborough. The ground is only a basic one, but Athletic plan to bring it up to scratch to reach the Football Association’s Grade D (which includes the installation of such basics as floodlights, hard standing, turnstiles and a perimeter fence), which would be enough for them to compete in their current division, the North East Counties League Premier Division and the Unibond League Division One, which is the one above. It’s only a short term solution - the club’s ultimate goal is to be back pushing for a place in the Football League again - but it’s a start.

Enfield Town: The sale of Southbury Road in 1999 proved to be the catalyst which led to the formation of AFC Wimbledon and the other clubs that came about because their supporters had had enough. By 2001, Enfield FC were still ground-sharing and the club was making no effort to find a new home back in the London Borough of Enfield, so the supporters broke away and formed a new club, Enfield Town. Town have shared grounds with nearby Brimsdown Rovers since then, but in October 2008 they confirmed a plan to move to the QE2 athletics stadium, barely half a mile from their old home. The club is desperately raising £50,000 towards paying for this move, and remain optimistic that they will move home for the start of the 2010/11 season. The solution of playing at an athletics stadium isn’t an ideal one and has caused some disquiet, but a home of their own would be a massive step forward towards reclaiming the place near the top of the non-league table that they held from the 1960s until the end of the 1980s.

FC United of Manchester: FCUM’s hopes for a ground of their own are possibly the most intriguing of the lot. Since their formation in 2005 they have, in no small part due to safety considerations brought about because of their 2,000+ crowds, played their home matches at Gigg Lane, the home of League Two club Bury. However, the cost of renting Gigg Lane is almost prohibitively expensive and the club needs a home of its own. Last month, however, the club announced an open tender to build a sustainable new stadium in Manchester (no definite site seems to have been indentified yet) whilst Manchester-based architects, Judge Gill, are working on a 7,000 capacity stadium for an unnamed club which some believe to be FCUM. The club signed a new ground share deal at Bury earlier this summer, but the fact that it was only signed for two years has also been taken by some as being a further sign that the club is preparing to move to a home of its own. Nothing is guaranteed yet, but if any club is capable of building a unique stadium with the best interests of its fans at heart, it has to be FC United of Manchester.

It’s not all good news, of course. It never is, is it? Gloucester City remain stranded in Cirencester following the ruination of their Meadow Park during the terrible floods of 2007. Aylesbury United will be groundsharing at Leighton Town next season, with a move back to Aylesbury seeming as far away as ever. There are plenty of others. This is a battle that isn’t over yet, and the economic downturn may prove to be a short term blip before the vultures start hovering again. Football grounds may yet prove to be prime real estate again in the near future.

Ian 8 July 2009 Non-League

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Old boys return to the scene of FC United’s first game

Source: Prestwich Advertiser

July 09, 2009

FC UNITED will welcome back a host of former favourites for their visit to the scene of their first ever league game.

The reds travel to face Leek CSOB at Harrison Park on Saturday, July 11. It is the scene of their debut in the North West Counties League’s second division back in August 2005.

Old boys Joz Mitten, Steve Spencer and Dave Brown will feature in the All Star team alongside players who have been at the club ever since that historic day, including Simon Carden and Dave Chadwick.

FC manager Karl Marginson said: "It’s been great fun getting in touch with old mates and I’ll add in a few of the current squad, especially those like Chaddy and Si Carden, who have been with us since that first season.

"Unfortunately, centre back Rob Nugent will miss out after giving me some excuse about still being on his honeymoon."

The game will kick-off at 3pm and on the gate admission will cost £5 for adults and £2.50 for concessions.

Meanwhile, FC will travel to South Korea next week to face fans-owned club Bucheon FC 1995. For further details visit the website:

Friday, July 03, 2009

FC United picked for community bond fundraising project

Source: Crain's Manchester Business

6:16 pm, July 2, 2009

Fans’ football club FC United of Manchester is one of five community-owned enterprises selected for a government-funded research project into community shares and bonds.

The successful projects will receive a package of funding and consultancy to help them raise more than £10,000 by selling securities to at least twenty people to finance community ventures.

Hugh Rolo, head of assets and investment at the Development Trusts Association (DTA), which is helping to deliver the project, said there was huge potential for using community investment to raise capital rather than increasing the level of debt and risk.

He added: “An increasing number of communities are finding that local people also like the direct proposition of investing in something they can see, touch and benefit from.”

The project is supported Office of the Third Sector’s Social Enterprise Action Learning Fund, the Department for Communities and Local Government is leading an action learning research programme in the field of community shares and bonds. The research programme is being delivered by the DTA and Co-operativesUK, in conjunction with the UK Social Return on Investment network (SROI).

The other four projects chosen are Cybermoor in Alston, Cumbria; Hastings Pier & White Rock Trust; Ashington Community Development Trust, Northumberland; and Slaithwaite Cooperative Ltd (Grocery store), Colne Valley, near Huddersfield.

Pauline Green, Chief Executive of Co-operativesUK, said: “Community investment is about community engagement and this is at the core of the co operative way of business as demonstrated by our members. For example, The Phone Co-op has 6,735 members who have over £1.6m in their share accounts and, in December 2008, local people in Settle in Yorkshire raised £100,000 through a share issue to build a mini hydro-electric scheme in their town. I think other communities will want to follow their example.”