Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Breaking: Fans invited to buy soccer ground

Source: The Star

Published Date: 21 September 2010
LOCAL non-league teams like Stocksbridge, Retford, Worksop, Matlock and Buxton could be playing a team soon whose ground has been paid for by a unique public share issue.
Evo-Stik premier side FC United of Manchester - comprehensively beaten 4-1 by Stocksbridge Park Steels last Saturday - is pioneering a new model in football finance with the launch today of a £1.5m community share fund.

The club, founded five years ago by Manchester United fans, is giving supporters and the wider community the chance to "invest in its future" by buying shares to raise funds for the development of a new £3.5m stadium, close to United's birthplace in Newton Heath.

The 5,000-capacity stadium will be the first permanent home for the club, which currently plays at Bury FC's ground.

FC have a history of community sports involvement and say the share issue is intended to stiumlate this further.

Here they have something in common with Sheffield FC, who also do much good at grassroots level in the community and are also eyeing a new stadium, in Heeley's Olive Grove area.

FC hopes the share issue will raise £1.5m of the total cost of the stadium, with an equal amount coming from grant funding.

The club will also raise £500,000 through donations, with £300,000 of that already raised.

FC operates under a one member one vote system, which will remain unaffected by the share issue.

The main aim of the shares is to provide investors with a social return by funding the football and community objectives of FC United, but the club's business plan also provides for potential financial returns for shareholders.

Supporters, investors and companies can support the club's development by buying £1 shares from the minimum purchase of £200 up to £20,000.

Andy Walsh, FC United general manager, said: "FC United has achieved a great deal in the five years since its foundation, despite not having a permanent home. With our own ground and community facilities we can achieve much more, making the club sustainable and fulfilling our ambition to become a beacon showing a better way for football.

"Through the community share issue we can make that happen. At a time when many clubs are in debt or in the hands of major investors, we aim to demonstrate that there is a real alternative. We want to change the way football is run and financed by putting supporters at the heart of the game.

"We are offering supporters and others the chance to be part of this exciting development and help make football history. This is a landmark opportunity to invest in a club bringing football back to the heart of its communities and leave a lasting legacy for future generations."