Sunday, November 07, 2010

Man United fans' rebel team advances in FA Cup

Source: USA Today

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The team formed by disenchanted Manchester United fans could be just a game away from facing the club they rebelled against after it was bought by American tycoon Malcolm Glazer.

FC United, which has rapidly risen to the seventh tier of English football after five years in existence, has reached the second round of the FA Cup with a 3-2 victory over third-tier club Rochdale.

In Friday's match, which was televised by ESPN in Britain, Mike Norton's stoppage-time winner sent FC United through. But the tiler, who had been working since 8 a.m. on Friday, had to go back to work on Saturday.

"I need to finish off a bathroom job I have only half done," Norton said.

Victory in the next game would take the semiprofessional side to the stage when the top teams, including record 11-time winner Manchester United, enter world football's oldest knockout competition.

"(Playing) Manchester United is a dream. Or is it?" FC United manager Karl Marginson said. "For a lot of our fans it would be a nightmare because they have vowed never to go to Old Trafford again. It is a toss of a coin really."

FC United is owned and run by its membership which exceeds 2,000 and plays its home matches at the Gigg Lane ground of fourth-tier club Bury in north Manchester.

The team was formed as the Glazer family was completing its leveraged takeover of United in 2005, burdening the club with a debt which stands at around 750 million pounds ($1.2 billion).

As resentment soars against the Glazers affecting the club's sale of season tickets FC United has been flooded with membership applications since Friday night.

"The pictures will go around the world and show what we are all about and show that FC United are a decent football team backed by terrific supporters," Marginson said. "We've shown what we are capable of and what can be achieved."

Marginson is awaiting a favorable draw on Sunday when FC United discovers its second-round opponents.