Wednesday, December 22, 2010

£1m barrier smashed towards FC United's stadium dream

 Source: MEN, by Pamela Welsh

 Supporters of FC United have raised more than £1m towards the club’s new 5,000 capacity stadium.

Fans have been rushing to take part in a pioneering ‘community shares’ scheme – giving them a stake in the club as well as raising money towards the planned ground at Ten Acres Lane in Newton Heath.

They have crossed the £1m threshold in less than three months on their way to a target of £1.5m.

The new stadium, which was given the green light by Manchester council in November, will cost a total of £3.5m.

The rest of the cash will come from grant funding and donations.

The semi-professional club – formed out of the anti-Glazer movement at Manchester United five years ago – now has until February to reach the £1.5m target.

FC United general manager Andy Walsh said: “We still have some way to go but to have raised more than £1m in shares is a phenomenal achievement.

“A further £200,000 has been pledged to date and although we still have to turn these pledges into cash, we can say we are now on the home straight with the shares offer.

“Our progress shows support is growing for our campaign to see football clubs owned and run by supporters and is a tremendous tribute to the efforts of everybody at FC United.

“We are now working hard, pulling together our grant applications. It is an extremely competitive process but we have some great support from partners and hope that the funding bodies will recognise our submissions as strong bids that will bring real economic benefit to Newton Heath.”

Investors can purchase £1 shares to a value ranging from £200 up to £20,000.

The offer is open to businesses and anyone aged 16 and over. All shareholders must be members of FC United but non-members can join at the time of application.

The news of the fundraising milestone caps an extraordinary few weeks for the Evo-Stik Premier club, which currently shares a ground with Bury FC.

FC United reached the second round of the FA Cup, attracting a record home attendance against League One Brighton in a game seen by a global television audience. The offer closes on February 28, 2011.

Full details of the scheme are can be found at

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rebels will rise again – Marginson

 Source: MEN

 FC United boss Karl Marginson insisted his fallen FA Cup heroes will soon be riding high again in the league despite suffering a ninth defeat in their last 12 Evo-Stik Premier outings in losing 1-0 to leaders FC Halifax Town at Gigg Lane.

The Rebels’ hopes of bouncing back from their Cup exit to Brighton with a much-needed victory were dashed as FC old boy Simon Garner struck to give the table-topping visitors three more points towards their title crusade.

The single-goal loss sees FC slip to next-to-bottom and, despite them having plenty of games in hand on almost all the teams above them, they now face an enormous challenge if they're to achieve their target of a place in the promotion play-offs.

But, buoyed by his team’s battling performance against the table-topping Tykes, Marginson is adamant United will soon be heading in the right direction, saying: "If we keep playing with that level of endeavour, we'll be fine.

"Halifax are comfortably top of the league but we more than matched them throughout and can consider ourselves highly unfortunate not to have come out of the game with at least a draw.

"Obviously, we left ourselves open at the end when we were chasing an equaliser and they had a few good breaks, but, apart from that, we were rarely troubled.

"At the other end, we created several openings and were denied a good penalty shout. Overall, I thought we were excellent."

The only goal arrived on 53 minutes as Garner escaped FC’s defence to head home half-time substitute Scott Metcalf's inswinging cross from close range.

The Rebels had earlier had a let off when Scott Phelan fired against a post but were then left appealing in vain for a penalty after Carlos Roca appeared to have been upended in the box.

Matthew Wolfenden, making his first league start for United, was a constant threat to Halifax but wasted a chance to put the hosts in front when he dragged his shot agonisingly wide after being freed by Roca.

Wolfenden also had FC’s best opportunity to equalise, only to be denied by Liam Hogan’s goalline clearance as the visitors held on.

Share scheme more vital than TV cash, says FC's Walsh

 Source: MEN

 FC United general manager Andy Walsh says the ground and the club’s Community Share Scheme are more important than their lucrative FA Cup run.

The Evo-Stik Premier League team, who bowed out of the cup in the second-round replay against Brighton, pocketed two fees from live television appearances, plus a percentage from decent crowds at Rochdale and Brighton and a new attendance record of around 7,000 at Gigg Lane for the replay.

It is thought the TV coverage of the Rochdale first-round tie earned them £67,000.

The money will come in handy after planning permission for FC United’s own £3.5m home at Ten Acres Lane, in Newton Heath, was granted last month.

Walsh said: "The FA Cup has been fantastic for us, but the ground, and the Community Share Scheme we intend to use in order to pay for it, are far more significant.

"I would say it is the biggest thing that has happened to this club since it was formed, and has the potential to be adopted by a much broader base.

"Already we have had other clubs expressing an interest in how it works and as time goes on, I am sure the interest will grow."

Walsh said: "Supporter-owned clubs are the way forward. It has happened at Chester, Exeter and countless others besides.

"We arrived at our situation in a slightly different way but the concept is still the same.

"Brighton nearly went out of business during the Bill Archer era and no-one would look at Portsmouth over the past few years and think their ownership structure was stable.

"Supporter interests have been ignored for far too long and it is time the football authorities did something about it."

The Rebels launched a community shares scheme earlier this year aimed at raising £1.5m of the sum needed to build the new stadium.

The scheme allows fans and businesses to invest between £200 and £20,000 into the club.

Monday, December 13, 2010

United they stand

 Source: Sunday Star Times (NZ)

 OPINION: FC United's collective fury at Man United's takeover by rich Yanks goes so much deeper than scarf waving.

FOR FC UNITED of Manchester, the FA Cup dream is over, but the rebellion is just starting to gather pace. Membership for the non-league club is up, local authorities are singing its praises and consent has recently been granted to build a new stadium. In the uncaring world of uber-professional sport, where community values have been overrun by avarice and greed, the Rebels' trailblazing success is starting to attract a cult following.

The five-year-old protest vessel of legions of disgruntled Manchester United supporters, FC have stunned fans and opponents alike this season, initially knocking over first-division Rochdale in the opening round of the FA Cup, and then forcing Brighton into a second-round replay a few weeks later. That they were eventually swept aside 4-0 on Thursday by a team four divisions above them was no great shock. The much bigger surprise has been the traction so far gained.

Wholly community-owned, FC United were formed in 2005 by Manchester United supporters dismayed over the debt-laden takeover of their team by the USA's Glazer family. At present, playing out of the Bury club ground at Gigg Lane, they have more than 2000 members on their books, all of whom have one voting share in the organisation. Volunteers look after everything from ticket sales to pitch preparation. Last year, FC won the UK's Cooperative Excellence Award.

Whereas the mega-wealthy English Premier League clubs have abdicated any thoughts of community responsibility in their rush for profit, FC have deliberately resurrected the values of yesteryear. Ticket prices at Old Trafford start at 13.50 (for paid-up senior citizens); entry prices at Gigg Lane start at 2. Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney rakes in about 200,000 a week, FC's leading goal-scorer, Michael Norton, is a tiler paid 80 a game. The manager of the team, Karl Marginson, is a fruit and vege man. The side's first goalkeeper, Barry George, worked on the checkout at a local supermarket. It's old school stuff, with the players and coaching staff happily spreading their message each week at surrounding schools and hospitals, to the delight of the local borough councils. Indeed, FC's push to buy land for a new stadium at Newton Heath has been fast-tracked, such has been the depth of the goodwill fostered.

Yes, that's right, Newton Heath, not only the original birthplace of Manchester United, but one of the most deprived areas of the greater Manchester region. Before the move across town and the change of name in 1902, the club played in green and gold, the colours now flown in an anti-Glazer protest at every Manchester United game, home or away. Newton Heath, where eight streets are named after the players who perished in the 1958 Munich air disaster.

FC United are going a long way towards replicating the old club's philosophy and approach. They not only have a code of conduct for players and coaching staff, but also for their own supporters. Fans are encouraged to support their own team and also (shock, horror) the opposition; to show their appreciation for good play and to respect the decisions of the match officials. Booing is a no-no. Rather than simply reflecting community values, FC are trying to drive them.
Ad Feedback

If Prime Minister John Key and his cohorts really want an idea about where their funding priorities in sport should lie, they could get a hint from these guys. Rather than chasing the bucket of gold at all costs, FC have begun to strip their activity back to what really matters. Socially unacceptable on-field behaviours such as cheating, lying and opportunistic violence have been rejected out of hand. A commitment to the community is included in the constitution.

Not that they've lacked purpose in the competitive arena; in fact, far from it. In their first three years, the Rebels won a number of trophies and consecutive promotions into higher competitions. The 3-2 FA Cup win over Rochdale last month, watched by 4000 travelling FC fans, was a breathtaking result, the winning goal coming in the last minute of injury time. And to even draw with Brighton, currently leading the English FA's first division, was considered an outrageous achievement.

So well known have FC become, that they are now being courted by other cause celebre clubs throughout Britain and Europe. They travelled to Hamburg last season to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the St Pauli side, reportedly the most passionately anti-fascist club in Germany. They were also flown to Belfast for a match against Cliftonville, Ireland's oldest football team. For a club that started out as a protest movement, FC seems to be doing a lot more than merely oppose.

They sing as well, or at least their fans do. One of the recent favourites is apparently the Carpenters song "Top of the World", which was sung solidly by FC supporters for 30 minutes after the end of the Rochdale tie. There's also an adaption of that old Sex Pistols' number "Anarchy in the UK" ("I am an FC fan"). They even churn out some former favourites from Old Trafford, particularly about former star Eric Cantona, who previously went public with his support for their initiative.

It was about a year ago that respected journalist David Walsh warned that professionalism and big business activity was ruining sport, but doubted anything could be done about it. The Rebels of Manchester have offered hope that all is not lost. They might be small, even insignificant, but they've managed to remind us what sport is all about. Not to mention how we can go about reclaiming it. The message is that communities can fight back, after all. Vive le revolution.

Friday, December 10, 2010

El equipo de todos

 Source: El País

 Fieles a sus principios, los fundadores del United Auténtico idearon un equipo que funciona como una cooperativa. "El club es una organización democrática sin fines de lucro. Los estatutos del FC United recogen que nunca podrá ser vendido o poseído por un solo individuo y su activo siempre deberá ser usado en beneficio del club y la comunidad", explica Watt. El proyecto atrajo de inmediato a cientos de candidatos a defender su camiseta: la primera plantilla se formó tras una prueba a la que asistieron 900 jugadores que soñaban vestir la camiseta del Manchester.

El pasado en común, los orígenes son tan imposibles de borrar, que el grupo también es conocido como los rebeldes rojos en contraposición a los diablos rojos, quienes afrontan una deuda, tras cuatro años y medio de gestión de Glazer y familia, de 807 millones de euros, más de 78 solo por intereses. "Glazer, para apoderarse del Manchester, invirtió más de 900 millones , que cargó al club y no a su bolsillo, hasta que se quedó con la mayoría de las acciones. Ahora los únicos activos del Manchester son el campo y los jugadores. Si tienen que ser vendidos por las deudas, la existencia entera del club está en peligro", insisten desde el FC United, que vio la luz el 5 de julio de 2005. El día que Glazer irrumpió en Old Trafford.

Desde entonces, el número de copropietarios de la escuadra ha subido hasta los 3.200 miembros. "Partimos de la paridad. Cada miembro tiene un voto. Ejercen su derecho sin distinción ni prohibición. Desde aprobar la cuota de socio anual, que es de 12 libras [14 euros] y nos sirve para costear los gastos, entre ellos los sueldos de los futbolistas, de los que el mejor pagado cobra 150 libras [178 euros] a la semana, hasta el diseño de la camiseta", ahonda Watt, elegido por votación como uno de los 11 consejeros. Ninguno cobra en sus dos años de mandato, pero pueden ser reelegidos.

El inconformismo alimenta el ímpetu romántico de los aventureros del FC United. "Vamos a construir un campo con 5.000 localidades en Newton Heath, la zona donde el Manchester surgió en 1878. Ya nos han dado el permiso para construirlo en vez de un recinto deportivo obsoleto", concluyen desde Gigg Lane, donde entienden que "no hay que vender el alma" para disfrutar de su equipo. Un lema que se extiende poco a poco como las bufandas verdes y amarillas, los colores primigenios del Manchester, que la semana pasada lucían seguidores del Aris y el Atlético. "Son como un código, la seña de identidad con la que nos reconocemos y que nos hace sentir de la misma familia", decía Ioannis Granouzis, el presidente de los seguidores del equipo griego, del que controlan casi el 70% de las acciones tras el fiasco que supuso otro especulador estadounidense.

FC United 0 Brighton 4

 Source: MEN

 It had to end sometime. It had started with a 3-0 win over Radcliffe Borough in early September but, six games and 88 days later, FC United’s incredible FA Cup run finally came to an end against League One leaders Brighton.

Goals from Fran Sandaza, Inigo Calderon, Elliott Bennett and Matt Sparrow eased Brighton’s passage into round three but their names will be forgotten long before memories of Carlos Roca’s winner against Barrow or Mike Norton’s last-gasp goal in the first-round win at Rochdale.

FC United fans were determined to enjoy the next stop on their remarkable journey regardless of the freezing temperatures, with Eric Cantona-themed renditions of the 12 days of Christmas and ‘Bring on United’ ringing out from underneath the scoreboard all night.

They were just as determined to get their point across in front of the ESPN cameras with banners reading ‘Pies not prawns’ – a nod to Roy Keane’s famous outburst – and ‘Making friends not millionaires’ draped over the stands.

The game might not have gone ahead had it not been for ESPN, who paid to cover the pitch with a hot air balloon to thaw the pitch, and referee Eddie Ilderton was still casting his eye over the conditions right up until kick-off.


The big freeze meant neither team had played since Sam Ashton’s stoppage-time penalty save in the first game ensured the two sides – separated by 112 places in the football pyramid – would have do it all over again at Gigg Lane. Brighton manager Gus Poyet had hinted before the game that he would again rest a number of his regulars for the replay but, after a free weekend, he opted to bring back Gordon Greer, Adam El-Abd, Sparrow, Calderon and Sandaza.

FC United boss Karl Marginson, meanwhile, was forced into his two changes with suspensions ruling out Scott McManus, sent off in the first game at the Withdean Stadium, and Jerome Wright.

Marginson had struggled to find his players anywhere to train in the run-up to the game, but the Rebels looked anything but rusty in the opening stages to more than merit Poyet’s decision to bring back his big guns. And it looked an even shrewder move midway through the first-half when Sandaza, used only as a substitute in the first game, poked Brighton ahead after

Bennett’s miscued shot squirmed its way to the big Spaniard.

But there was more than just the Rebels’ fans flares to illuminate the occasion with their part-time heroes more than playing their part. Roca saw his effort from the edge of the box skid just wide before Chris Ovington cut in from the left to flash a drive over the bar.

But any momentum was quickly brought to an abrupt halt in first-half stoppage time. Sandaza fed Bennett on the left and his cross was headed past Ashton by a diving Calderon to make Marginson’s half-time team talk all the more difficult.

But whatever he did say worked. Ben Deegan squared the ball for Nicky Platt to side-foot wide before Deegan was brought down in the area by Calderon’s clumsy challenge.


Mr Ilderton obliged the baying crowd behind the goal and pointed to the spot but Jake Cottrell fluffed his lines and sent his spot kick crashing against the outside of the post.

A goal was the least FC United deserved for their battling performance but they didn’t need to prove they had been more than a match for Brighton.

Bennett slid the third past Ashton after Sandaza had delivered a perfectly-weighted ball through the tiring United defence and Sparrow added a fourth late on but they only served to give the scoreline a more flattering look for the Seasiders.

As the clock wound down, United’s fans broke into a chorus of ‘Always look on the bright side of life’.

After this fantastic run, they have a lot to smile about.

FC United: Ashton 7, Jacobs 6 (Battersby 80), Quistin 6 (Carden 88), Munroe 7, Parker 7, Platt 7, Cottrell 7, Roca 8, Ovington 6 (Wolfenden 59), Norton 7, Deegan 8. Not used: Hibbert, Holden, Tierney, Ayres.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

John Barnes: "Unglaublich, diese Begeisterung!"

 Edited from:

...kicker: Wie macht sich diese besondere Leidenschaft bemerkbar?

Barnes: Gerade erst war ich als TV-Kommentator bei einem Spiel der ersten FA-Cup-Runde, der FC United of Manchester siegte bei Drittligist Rochdale. Unglaublich, diese Begeisterung! Zum FC United in die siebte Liga kommen 6000 Zuschauer. Mir geht es nicht um Arsenal oder Chelsea und die Premier League, die muss man der Welt nicht mehr vorstellen, aber Dorfvereine wie Woking mit 4000 Fans bei einem Heimspiel.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Grünes Licht für Stadionbau


 Der FC United of Manchester hat die Baugenehmigung für ein Stadion in der Ten Acres Lane in Newton Heath erhalten. Der Bauantrag für das 3,5 Millionen Pfund (circa 4,5 Millionen Euro) teure Projekt wurde vom Rat des Planungssauschusses der Stadt Manchester stattgegeben.

Demnach darf United, sobald sie über die finanziellen Mittel verfügen, ein eigenes Stadion für 5.000 Zuschauer bauen. Clubmanager Andy Walsh sieht die Freigabe als großen Schritt nach vorne und hofft, dass die Einzahlungen in den Gemeinschaftsanteil weiter ansteigen. „Wir sind unserem Ziel, in zwei Jahren auf unserem eigenen Boden zu spielen, einen gewaltigen Schritt näher gekommen und die Genehmigung ist ein großes Vertrauensvotum in unseren Verein“, dankte Walsh der Unterstützung des Rats. „Es liegt jetzt an uns, ein ordentliches Finanzierungspaket zu schnüren.“

Seit Ende September seien bereits über 600.000 Pfund (circa 714.000 Euro) in die Gemeinschaftsbeteiligung geflossen. United hat sich 1,5 Millionen Pfund (circa 1,7 Millionen Euro) an Einkäufen in den Gemeinschaftsanteil für den Bau an der Ten Acres Lane vorgenommen und ruft jeden Interessierten dazu auf in den Verein zu investieren.

Der Stadtrat beschreibt in einem Statement, dass das Bauprojekt in Newton Heat – der Geburtsstätte von Manchester United – sehr begrüßt wird. Der FC United of Manchester habe gut mit dem Rat zusammengearbeitet, um die bestmöglichste Planung zu erreichen.

Nach der Übernahme von Manchester United durch den US-Geschäftsmann Malcom Glazer hatten Fans als Reaktion und Zeichen gegen Kommerzialisierung den neuen Verein gegründet. Seitdem stieg der Verein drei Mal auf, erhielt mittlerweile Kultstatus und dementsprechend auch stets einen hohen Zuschauerzuspruch. (Stadionwelt, 1.12.2010)

Friday, December 03, 2010

FC United's Heywood star Jake Cottrell picks up FA Cup gong

 Source: MEN

 Dec 02, 2010

 Jake Cottrell has been voted E.ON Player of the Round after his stunning left-foot strike helped FC United of Manchester beat Rochdale 3-2 at Spotland in the FA Cup first round.

Nick Platt had already given Karl Marginson’s side the lead when former Heywood St James star pupil Cottrell stepped up to smash a wonderful effort past the helpless Josh Lillis.

Mike Norton’s last-minute winner set up a second round tie against Gus Poyet’s Brighton and Hove Albion, which ended in a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

Cottrell and FC United will get another chance to make it through to the third round – where they would face Championship side Portsmouth – when Brighton travel to Gigg Lane for the replay on Wednesday, December 8.

"It’s a real honour and I’d like to say thank you to everyone who voted for me. Hopefully, we’ll be able to produce more of the same in the replay against Brighton," said Cottrell.

The midfielder signed for FC United after being spotted playing at North West Counties level with Oldham Town.

"There’s a big difference in the standard from Oldham, both player and fitness-wise.

"It helped to get to know the team by watching for a few games and then I had to show what I could do once I got my chance."

The Manchester United supporter says of his time so far with FC: "I’ve really enjoyed it all so far. Margy talks to us like one of the lads and so you can get to know him. We have a good laugh in training.

"I like playing here with the fans and the great atmosphere. I’d certainly like to progress up the divisions in non-league, ideally with FC."

Cottrell doesn’t have a particular career in mind off the pitch as yet. He currently works for a company called Coleman’s doing admin in an office near Old Trafford but can be forgiven for having his mind on things other than work and football just now.

"I haven’t got a clue about work at the minute, Im just trying to get a wage in. I’ve just had a baby on New Year’s Day, a little boy.

"He’s good, he’s doing well. He doesn’t wake me up too much so I don’t mind. He’s keeping me busy and I’ll have him kicking a ball soon."

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

FC United of Manchester Show All Is Not Lost After All

 Source: The Epoch Times

 MANCHESTER, England—As football’s talented exponents become distracted by the wealth their gift accumulates, then the love for football is no longer a pure thing.

Play ugly who cares? What is fuelling the headlong charge away from the pure thing that sidesteps open admiration and respect for an opponent’s skill, playing within the rules of the game, and a healthy appreciation of good natured sportsmanship?

Carlos Tevez, the Manchester City striker, threatens to escape from the money obsessed Premier League claiming football is only about money, he does not like it, and young players are not interested in winning.

Only money is the driving force. Tevez also referred to football being full of uneducated “bad people” in an interview with TyC Sports.

As in other areas of society, the good, the bad, and the ugly take their place. Tevez is simply highlighting a situation that has long been recognized, but carries more weight being registered as direct experience from the confines of the dressing room.

Under the cover of the accepted distorted norm, the impact of the lowering of standards is blatantly ignored, and the impression is given that, after all, it is the big boys at the top who call the tune. Is it a rich man’s game and not much can be done about it?

Breath of Fresh Air

Now and then, there appears a group of people who have a true sense of perspective and genuine care for the relationship that once formed a strong bond between club and community. They decided something could be done about it.

Here we have a non-league club; FC United of Manchester owned and run by its fans that formed five years ago, because they could not stomach their beloved Manchester United’s loss of heritage by the Glazer millionaire brothers’ debt-laden takeover.

In early November, these non-leaguers achieved an astonishing feat by defeating Rochdale, a Division 1 side, 3–2 in the FA Cup first round at Rochdale, which was shown live on television in the U.K.

These mighty minnows play in the Evo-Stick Premier Division, four divisions below Rochdale who were promoted to Division 1 last season.

Last Saturday, Sam Ashton saved a last-minute penalty to earn dedicated (reduced to 10 men) FC United an FA Cup second-round replay with League One leaders Brighton with a 1–1 draw.

Their 854 traveling fans went crazy with joy shouting mischievous chants referring to the possibility of meeting giants Manchester United in the later rounds of the Cup. These advocates of fair play receive $200 per week in wages, and would it not be a great irony to see these cheeky monkeys trot out at Old Trafford to play their salaried counterparts, having in mind Sir Alex Ferguson’s reference to their fans as "self-publicists" at its inception.

These brave hearts show a light that all is not lost after all.

Now FC United of Manchester have set their sights on buying their own ground with the help of the proceeds gained from the television company who paid for the rights to screen the Rochdale match.

And Manchester City Council is aware of the club’s good work in many deprived areas of the city with the distinct possibility of granting a lease to allow FC United to build their own facility in Newton Heath, which was formally the birthplace of Manchester United in 1878.

FC Manchester has a commitment to community service written into its constitution enabling a return to the purest thing possible in football. And if they can pull it off against Brighton in the replay, who knows—it might herald fans deserting in greater numbers from their first love Manchester United.

FCUM delighted with Brighton draw

Source: SkySports

Our Road to Wembley feature continues as we bring you the best of the reaction from FC United's clash at Brighton.

The Football Club United of Manchester dream continues as they claimed a draw at League One leaders Brighton.

But things could have been so different. FCUM took the lead when midfield ace Nicky Platt scored for the second successive round.

Scott McManus was then sent-off with 20 minutes left, but despite being down to 10 men, United looked as if they would hold out for yet another famous win.

But with seven minutes left, Brighton levelled as player-assistant manager Mauricio Taricco scored.

Then six minutes into stoppage-time Brighton were awarded a penalty, but step forward FCUM keeper Sam Ashton - who saved at full stretch to write another chapter in the unfolding FC United story.

Penalty praise

Speaking after his save, Ashton was understandably delighted and he heaped the praise on assistant boss Roy Soule.

"Roy had watched a tape of Brighton's penalty shoot-out at Woking and told me that Sandaza will go left and the rest will all put it to the right," revealed Ashton.

"I did go to my right and I touched it round the post. I could tell that he didn't want to take it. He didn't look as though he was confident to take it."

Platt was equally ecstatic and he is adamant that they can dispatch of Brighton in the replay.

"We can't wait to get Brighton up to our place, which I'm sure will be packed," he said.

"Brighton will not have seen anything like it, I can guarantee it. You can see why they are top of the league - they were quality opposition. But I'm sure a lot of our lads could step up to play in League Two or in the Conference."

Last season's FA Cup runners-up Portsmouth will now travel to Brighton or FCUM in the next round, and that provides some real incentive - not that the non-leaguers need much more.

"It's mind-blowing to think we're just one game away from playing last season's beaten cup finalists," said FCUM boss Karl Marginson.

"To think Portsmouth went all the way to Wembley last May and now we could be meeting them, it's unbelievable.

"But, before we start getting too carried away, we've got to remember we've still got a big job to do if we're to get past Brighton.

"If we're fortunate enough to do that, we can look forward to another terrific occasion because Portsmouth would no doubt bring a big following up to Gigg Lane. That would mean lots of noise from both sets of fans and a cracking atmosphere.

"Pompey may be mid-table in the Championship but they have some great players and still have aspirations to get back into the Premier League.

"They're going to be decent, but we'd have nothing to lose against them, so, from our point of view, it's a great draw."

No cup of cheer here

Of course the lure of a South Coast derby is a big one for Brighton, but Gus Poyet is taking a pragmatic approach and the magic of the cup does not appear to have got a grip on the former Chelsea star.

Poyet revealed: "I will probably play the reserves.

"We lost one game and we drew two in the league because of Woking (FA Cup first round).

"I'm not going to lose and draw another game in the league because of FC United.

"We should have been two or three nil-up before they had their first shot, then it probably would have finished 4-1 or 5-1 or 6-1 or 25-1.

"If we put the ball in the net we will beat Colchester, if we don't score from three yards then we will have a problem."