Source: Manchester Evening News
March 25, 2010
FC United's proposed move to Manchester would bring an "iconic" supporter-owned club to the city.
That is the claim of a councillor who has helped to devise plans for the Unibond League outfit to move into a new 5,000-capacity stadium in Newton Heath.
The club has been working closely with Manchester City Council for two years to try to pinpoint land for a new home within the boundaries.
FC United's move has been welcomed by Manchester's spokesman for culture and leisure Coun Mike Amesbury, who said: "We've been working with the club for around two years to help them realise their ambition of returning to their historic home in Newton Heath.
"Giving them this land is great for the club which is fairly unique in the way it is so strongly rooted in the community. It will also help us realise much-needed investment in that particular area."
The stadium plan also got the backing of Newton Heath councillor John Flanagan, who said: "I welcome this great news both for the club and residents in the area.
"FC United do a lot of work at grass roots in the community and local schools, not just for the boys and girls who play football but in a supporting capacity as well. This is great for the local economy and ongoing regeneration of Newton Heath."
And the selection of Ten Acres Lane has symbolic significance to FC United supporters, most of whom remain Manchester United fans. United were born as Newton Heath Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway in 1878, and their first two grounds were at North Street (now Northampton Street in Monsall) and Bank Street in Clayton - both less than half a mile from FC United's proposed home.
The early history of Newton Heath as a football club is shrouded in mystery - and there is even a suggestion that their first game was actually played on Ten Acres Lane.
The club's green and gold colours have recently been adopted by United fans protesting at the Glazer family's ownership of United.
But the proposed siting of the new ground in that area is a happy coincidence, and more to do with the council's ongoing regeneration of east Manchester than any historical significance. The supporter-owned club, which attracts an average crowd of around 2,000 in the UniBond League's Premier division, have spent the first five seasons of their existence as tenants at Bury's Gigg Lane, but the rental costs have held the club back from their ambitions to become a community football club for Manchester.
The stadium will be close to the new Newton Heath station to be built on the new Oldham Rochdale loop of the Metrolink, and the club is to explore schemes to encourage their fans to use the trams to get to and from the ground.
Said FC United's general manager Andy Walsh: "As far as the facilities we hope to have at the stadium, and the benefits we will offer, at the moment it is largely a blank sheet of paper - we want to talk to local residents and community groups, as well as our own members, before any decisions are taken.
"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."
Details of the stadium and its facilities will be discussed with local residents and community groups before a final planning application is submitted.
Manchester City Council and the regeneration company New East Manchester are involved in the stadium plan, and the Town Hall's executive member for leisure Coun 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."
The stadium will be funded by the club's own development fund, grants from various bodies, plus an innovative "community shares" plan which would give anyone who buys a share a vote in the development, regardless of the size of their investment.