Thursday, March 25, 2010

FC United to move to Newton Heath

Source: Manchester Confidential

Breakaway FC United move to where big United were born

Date Published: 24/03/2010

This is very interesting. The breakaway club of FC United are to move back to the old stomping ground of Manchester United.

The latter club, arguably the biggest in the world, began life in 1878 as Newton Heath. They played in green and gold (ok yellow) which is why the anti-Glazer family campaign wears those colours – a reference, perhaps a naïve one, to those simpler days of grass roots football.

This is a provocative proposal, but admissable because it's got poetry too – the wheel come full circle and all that. Shame then that last night FC lost 1-5 to Bradford Park Avenue at their present home of Gigg Lane. Not such a poetic result.

Sir Alex might have a few choice words to say about the move of course. It's also interesting that both the Council Leader and Chief Executive, Sir Richard Leese and Sir Howard Bernstein, are both City fans. Perhaps they want their own United back in the administrative area of Manchester rather than over the border in Trafford.

Confidential anticipates sparks flying at this news.

Anyway here's the official press release.

'FC United of Manchester has announced plans to develop a football ground in Newton Heath, Manchester - the birthplace of Manchester United.

'The supporter-owned club, established when the Glazer family took over Manchester United in May 2005, is proposing to include new and renovated community sports facilities and a multi-function community space at the 5,000-capacity stadium.

'The club wants to provide state of the art facilities that will create new investment in the area and opportunities for local people in sports participation and physical activity, youth inclusion, education, health, employment and a range of other services.

'The site for the development is the existing Ten Acres Lane sports centre, which is owned by Manchester City Council.

'FC United, New East Manchester and Manchester City Council have been working closely over the past two years to develop the plans and consultation will now progress with local residents, community groups and FC United members who own the club.

'FC United is working to secure the finance for the £3.5m development, which will include a public appeal for donations, a Community Shares issue and grant funding.

'Club General Manager Andy Walsh said: “We are delighted to be able to make this announcement and discussions with the council have been very positive to date. The significance of this location is historical while it will also showcase a new model of facility development, based on football supporter ownership and community involvement.”

'Manchester City Council’s Executive member for Leisure, Cllr Mike Amesbury, said: “We have been supportive of this development to date and we are pleased to now take it to the next stage. While there is a way to go yet we feel that this will have significant local community benefits and bring an iconic supporter-owned club to Manchester.”

'Eddie Smith, chief executive of urban regeneration company New East Manchester said: "We are working closely with FC United to help achieve their aspirations of acquiring land in Newton Heath for a new football ground. This is still very early stages but we are supportive of their proposals which would bring further regeneration benefits to east Manchester."

'FC United hopes the development will be completed in the next two to three years, subject to consultation, funding and planning.'