Friday, May 27, 2011

De Red devils a 'Red rebels'



 Juega en la séptima categoría y le animan 2.000 seguidores, fieles del ManU, pero enemigos de los Glazer

Javier Giraldo | 27.05.2011 | 04:05h

Al lado del gigante, en el `Gran Manchester,¿ el extrarradio de la ciudad, un grupo de valientes intenta mantener con vida un proyecto futbolístico que remite a lo más romántico del fútbol. El FC United of Manchester nació en 2005 como respuesta a la compra de la mayoría de las acciones del Manchester United por parte del estadounidense Malcom Glazer. La comercialización del fútbol y la subida de abonos desencadenaron la escisión en una parte de la afición, los más idealistas, que no dudaron en lanzarse a la aventura de crear, de la nada, un nuevo club. De los `red devils¿ a los `red rebels¿, los `rebeldes rojos¿.

El FC United of Manchester funciona como una cooperativa. Está inscrito en el registro de Industrial&Provident Society, que obliga al club a revertir en el propio club sus beneficios y que garantiza que el gobierno de la entidad esté en manos de sus socios, que votan a un consejo de once miembros. Solo Andy Walsh, director general, y su secretaria, Lindsey Robertson, trabajan a tiempo completo en el club, que ocupa la séptima división inglesa, la Northern Premier League, el equivalente a la Regional en España, tras celebrar tres ascensos desde su nacimiento.

El nombre del club se eligió en una votación abierta entre sus primeros socios. Cada socio tiene derecho a un voto independientemente del dinero que aporte al club, que maneja un presupuesto de poco más de 500.000 euros. Su entrenador, Karl Marginson, ya trabaja en régimen de semi-profesional, tras compaginar banquillo con su tienda de frutas y verduras durante cinco años.

En la final de Wembley, sin embargo, el peso de los colores se impondrá al resquemor que muchos seguidores del FC United aún sienten contra los Glazer. Alex Ferguson criticó en su día a los aventureros del FC United ¿“parece que se preocupan más de sí mismos que del club”-, pero el sábado, los fieles del FC United recuperarán las viejas sensaciones de ponerse la camiseta del ManU.

“Es nuestro primer amor, el equipo al que apoyamos desde pequeños, y al que aún apreciamos. Por eso creo que la inmensa mayoría de los socios del FC United le apoyarán en la final”, explica Helen Lambert, una de las portavoces del grupo de aficionados del FC United. Su protesta tiene más que ver con lo económico que con lo sentimental.

“Apoyaremos siempre al Manchester, pero no pondremos ni una libra mientras Glazer dirija el club”. La idea ha calado en la grada de Gigg Lane, el estadio que el FC United comparte con el Bury FC. Hay planes para construir un nuevo campo en Newton Heath, la zona de la ciudad donde nació el ManUnited, aunque el proyecto está paralizado.

Sus seguidores (una media de 2.000 en cada partido, con el récord de 6.731 en un partido ante el Brighton) presumen de haber rescatado la vieja esencia del fútbol frente a la invasión del capital y el desprecio al aficionado de toda la vida.

“No estamos en contra del Manchester, sino de la manera en la que se está gestionando”, sostiene Mathew Haley, otro de los representantes de la afición, “la familia Glazer ha generado una deuda de cientos de millones de libras y espera saldarla aumentando un 55 por ciento el precio de los abonos y las entradas en los próximos años. La conclusión es que mucha gente ha tenido que dejar de ir a Old Trafford, simplemente por falta de dinero”.

From Mario Balotelli to Nando's: our 2010-11 end of season awards

 Source: Edited from Telegraph

 Terry Butcher Award for bravery in the line of fire

 Paul Melvin, head of communications of ESPN. After FC United's last-minute win against Rochdale in the FA Cup, fans stormed the pitch and besieged ESPN's makeshift touchline studio - in which the famous trophy itself happened to be on display. Selflessly protecting the cup with his life, Melvin held off hundreds of whooping Mancunians until security could regain control of the situation.

Comment: Wrexham FC will show future of football

 Source: Daily Post

 by Andrew Gilpin, DPW West
 May 27 2011

 LOOK at how we live our lives today. Through our smart phones and computers we’re constantly connected to everything and everyone we love.

We’re part of many different networks depending on our interests. Ideas, pleas and information are transmitted all over the world through the likes of Twitter and Facebook as part of a huge social experiment which stretches as far as you want, from North Wales to the rest of the world.

Networks where like-minded people join to celebrate and discuss the things they love, from 80s sitcoms to political ideals to football clubs.

There’s never been a better time to feel a part of something.

Networks can work for the good of modern society, with revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt this Spring having been fired by them.

Information is freely assimilated and those who care can decide what actions must be taken. Those with bad intentions will soon be shouted down by the greater good.

A network of people who care, working for the good of an institution. It’s a great fantastical notion isn’t it?

But it works in the real world – as well as in the heads of idealistic hacks – as Wrexham Supporters Trust are so close to proving as they hope to announce their takeover of Wrexham FC in the next few days.

The owners of our national game are slow to catch up on notions like these, but the change is coming.

Let’s not forget that when the internet was growing, the beautiful game was at the forefront of it, because nothing connects people from all walks of life more than sport.

The days of the single owners of public institutions like football clubs are coming to an end. They must be.

Since the Bosman ruling there’s no real way to get rich quick out of football. You can’t sell players at the drop of a hat and even the ones who leave under the age of 24 are usually passed on to bigger clubs on the cheap.

All the TV and sponsorship money goes to the big boys and the top teams hoover up all the best teen talent. It’s extremely rare for a talented youngster to slip through their net and make a small club a mint – you’re usually left with their cast-offs.

The only way to make money – or even break even – is to tinker with a club’s other assets, and Wrexham fans know that’s a dangerous road.

Why would you want your football club owned by just one man, unless he was a rich benefactor who loved the club such as Jack Walker or Dave Whelan?

Football clubs are too important to too many people to be left to the whims of one man. Soon all small football clubs must be community owned or they won’t survive.

Fans-owned club had a rocky start, but due to bodies such as Supporters Direct the tide is turning. For every Stockport or Lincoln there’s an AFC Wimbledon, Exeter, FC United of Manchester, Chester City or even Barcelona.

Well-run clubs at the heart of their communities, where local businesses are pleased to get involved and supporters gladly hand over their cash both for matches and merchandise knowing all the profits will be poured back into the club.

Wrexham FC stands on the verge of joining them, and it could be the proudest day in their 139-year history.

There will be tough times ahead, especially in the early days, but fans have joined together to save something they love, so look at the possibilities.

Say the club can’t afford to pay the wages, or a tax bill for example. Now it can be upfront and appeal directly to the supporters – the club’s owners – to help. A few pounds from fans on a pledge website would solve the problem in an instant and stop debts mounting up.

Wrexham fans wouldn’t be anywhere near this moment without the internet – it’s done more for supporters than standing together at 3pm on a Saturday.

And WST would also not have been able to raise their profile, membership and bank balance as successfully without it (but don’t forget local newspapers, they’re important too).

The new birth of Wrexham FC won’t fail unless we let it, but if one thing’s been proved over the past decade, it’s that there are dedicated fans who love the club and would do anything for it.

If they pour their energy into this fans-owned venture as much as they did saving the club, Wrexham FC has a very bright future to look forward to.

Join WST at and be a part of it.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Austria hope to make purple reign in Salzburg

 Source: Reuters UK

 Few football clubs can claim to owe their existence to a pair of socks but, as in so many other ways, Austria Salzburg are proud to be an exception.

This third-division club play in a tiny ground hidden behind a supermarket, yet are backed by a flag-waving, firecracker-brandishing band of ultras who would not be out of place at a top-flight South American stadium.

They have climbed from the seventh level to Regionalliga West -- part of the third tier of Austria football -- in successive seasons and everyone involved, from the players to the cleaners, is a volunteer.

More than anything else, the club, which boasts average home attendances of more than 1,000 in a league where 50 is more common, say they represent the determination of supporters not to succumb to what they see as excessive commercialism.

Like FC United and AFC Wimbledon in England, formed by Manchester United and MK Dons supporters defecting from their original clubs, Austria Salzburg are a splinter team set up by disillusioned fans.

For 52 years, Austria Salzburg were a moderately successful top-flight team which had won the Austrian league three times, the Cup four times, reached the UEFA Cup final in 1994 and taken part in the Champions League the following season.

In 2005, the club were taken over the Red Bull energy drinks manufacturer in a move initially welcomed by fans.

"Myself and thousands of Salzburg fans were happy when Red Bull arrived; we thought they could bring in some new players and rescue us from a difficult sporting situation," said Walter Windischbauer, chairman of the new Austria Salzburg.

They were in for a rude awakening. "After a few weeks, we saw they had a different philosophy," he said.

The team were renamed Red Bull Salzburg and, more dramatically, the club's colours were changed from the traditional purple-and-white to red-and-blue.


The new owners also distanced themselves from the club's history, at one point declaring that it had been founded in 2005 before being ordered to back-track by the Austrian federation.

When fans pleaded with Red Bull to keep the team's old colours, they were offered one concession: the goalkeeper would wear purple socks at away games.

"For many, that was just a provocation which showed that Red Bull had a different type of philosophy and the fans said that wasn't for them," said Windischbauer.

Hundreds of fans decided to set up a new Austria Salzburg, playing in purple-and-white, even if it meant starting out in the seventh tier, the lowest level of the Austrian football pyramid.

The easy part was getting through the lower divisions.

"It's relatively easy in the lower leagues if you have big ambitions," said Windischbauer. "We were more motivated than our opponents and the home fans were another factor.

"We barely lose a home game thanks to their backing."

Certainly, there is nothing like it at any other lower-division ground in Austria, or even in the top flight.

The high point comes in the 33rd minute of the second half of every home game when a shirtless Austria fan jumps on to the roof of the players' tunnel and yells at the ultras, who let off firecrackers and shout back.

Thirty-three is a symbolic number for Austria Salzburg, as the original club was founded in 1933.


By contrast, the atmosphere at Salzburg's top-flight club resembles an opera, Austria fans say.

"People applaud politely -- even when the opposition scores a goal," said Windischbauer.

Club sources admit there is a downside to this fanatical support as violence is not unknown and the ultras have a small far-right contingent. Some of Salzburg's opponents, particularly from the rival state of Tirol, have complained about safety at the ground and threatened not to play.

Windischbauer said the team had now reached a crossroads. Winning promotion to the second division would require them to turn professional with a huge outlay, something they were not ready for.

So they have not applied for a second-division licence and will stay in the third division even if they win promotion this season.

"It would be too much, too soon," said Windischbauer.

"There have been a few examples of clubs in Austria who have improved very quickly in sporting terms but were not ready for it off the field. They went bankrupt and had to leave the league."

In the long run, however, Windischbauer, an Austria Salzburg fan for 30 years, is committed to seeing his club back in the Austrian Bundesliga and hopefully the dominant force in the city.

"It could take 10 years but my dream is that I will live to see this club in the first division," he said.

Friday, May 20, 2011

‘We are not planning a breakaway football club’

 Source: The Leader

 Published date: 19 May 2011, by: Phil Robinson

 FANS are not planning to launch a break-away football club in the wake of this week’s takeover of Wrexham FC.

That was the message from Richard Owen, chairman of Wrexham Supporters’ Trust.

Mr Owen was commenting on speculation after the Trust’s public meeting at Glyndwr University on Tuesday.

It had been suggested angry fans were considering setting up a “phoenix” club as a reaction against the takeover of the Reds by former commercial director Jon Harris, which a number of them strongly oppose.

But Mr Owen said: “We had speakers at the meeting from Chester City FC, which was taken over by its fans, and FC United of Manchester, which was set up by fans as a reaction against Manchester United’s takeover by Malcolm Glazer.

“This may have given some people the impression we wanted to do something similar, but we are not planning anything like that.

“Our intention is to continue supporting the present club and see it get back into the Football League.”

Mr Owen said the meeting at William Aston Hall was well attended by more than 500 fans.

The evening began with a symbolic rendering by the audience of an old Welsh folk song entitled “We’re Still Here”.

Mr Owen said later: “The strong message from the meeting was that despite the takeover of the club we are still here.

“At the end we asked people in the audience to stand up if they were in favour of us continuing with our plans to aqcuire the club at some time in the future, whenever the opportunity arises, and everyone stood.

“We also pointed out how the Trust has professionally run things in the past, like the club shop, and over the past nine years donated a total of £125,000 to the club.”

Earlier this week the Leader reported that Mr Harris was to offer the Trust a seat on the club’s new board, although the proposed terms have not been made public.

Mr Owen said: “We need them to write to us formally about this because we need to understand exactly what is on offer.

“We are currently taking legal advice on what we should be asking for in relation to any proposed investment by the Trust in the club.

“After the meeting we are now regrouping and considering our next step.”

The Joy of Six: Moments of the 2010-11 football season

 Source: The Guardian

 From El Clásico No1 to FC United, via women's football in England and the Old Firm, here are half a dozen highlights

 Posted by Scott Murray Friday 20 May 2011 10.41 BST

  1) Barcelona rout Real

The scoreline 5-0 has a rare old significance in the history of El Clásico. A month after Real Madrid had snatched Alfredo di Stefano from under the noses of Barcelona in 1953, the new boy helped his new club to a 5-0 victory at the Bernabéu; Real went on to win their first league title in 21 years. In 1973, Johan Cruyff turned up in Catalunya and, soon after, inspired Barcelona to a 5-0 win over their vicious rivals at the Bernabéu; Barça ended the season as champions for the first time in 14 seasons. Then came Michael Laudrup's two 5-0s in a row: he was dropped from Cruyff's Dream Team soon after orchestrating a huge win for Barça in early 1994, then resurfaced in Madrid where he helped Real take Barça to the cleaners in early 1995, his next El Clásico appearance; at the end of both seasons, Laudrup picked up a championship medal. Will Barcelona's famous rout of Real last November be considered a similar historical harbinger in years to come? Barça have already wrapped up La Liga, of course, but times have changed and glory is measured out in a much more exalted metre these days. Plenty have anointed this team as the greatest club side ever, but their legacy will be tarnished – and the long-term view of this signature performance altered – if they can't seal the deal in Europe next weekend.

2) Some genuine England World Cup hopes

With England's men having embarrassed themselves against the USA at the World Cup last summer, it's just as well the women are taking up the slack. Last month England beat the USA for the first time since the 1980s. Most fans, schooled in realism, would have taken a draw, or even a respectable defeat, against the world's No1 team. Instead, England flew out of the blocks, early goals from Jess Clarke and Rachael Yankey proving enough in a 2-1 victory as superstar American striker Abby Wambach was restricted to the margins by a bravura English defensive performance. Hope Powell's side have since followed that up with a comprehensive 2-0 victory over Sweden, their first since 1984, despite missing their captain Faye White. With a brand-new semi-professional league launched last month, the women's game in England is healthier than ever, and hopes are high for the national team at the upcoming World Cup in Germany this summer. Nobody's betting huge sums on England emerging with the trophy, that's true, but then again the men are given carte blanche to chat nonsense every four years, so it's only fair the women get their turn to dream. Especially as they've actually got a few good results in the bag to back up any big talk.

3) The Glasgow school

The more sophisticated football hooligans think they're becoming, the louder the sound of knuckles scraping on the pavement. Bullets and bombs in the post, for the love of Struth and Maley. The overcooked sectarian nonsense off the field sadly obscured a fascinating series of matches between Celtic and Rangers, albeit one which didn't quite boast the quality of Barcelona's many run-ins with Real Madrid. Celtic played the better football overall – Emilio Izaguirre, Baram Kayal and Gary Hooper all starred, and showcased Neil Lennon's sharp eye in the transfer market – but it was Rangers who had the grit to seal the deal, Allan McGregor's late penalty save from Georgios Samaras in the final rubber of seven effectively deciding the destination of the SPL trophy. It's also a wee shame that the off-field disgraces visited upon Lennon have made it very awkward to admit to enjoying the ludicrous playground stramash between the two sides at Parkhead in the Scottish Cup, with Rangers down to nine men and Lennon and McCoist squaring up on the touchline. Because, let's not be too sanctimonious, it was highly entertaining at the time. And a pantomime is not a pass for hoodlums to act like eejits.

4) A tale of two Cities

As things stood at the start of this season, only six teams from outside the Super Spendthrift Superleague Six – Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City – had won a major trophy in England since football's financial Year Zero in 1992. (For the record: Everton and Portsmouth in the FA Cup, Aston Villa, Leicester, Blackburn and Middlesbrough in the League Cup, and Blackburn in the league.) For two decades' worth of play, it's a staggeringly predictable roll of honour: even in notoriously uncompetitive Scotland, where the finances are skewed even more disproportionately in favour of the Old Firm clubs, eight clubs outside of that country's financial powerhouse have, during that same period, managed to land a major pot. So it was a welcome relief to see Birmingham City win this year's Carling Cup. Partly because it was a rip-roaring game with an old-school shock – why are Arsenal always so dire in League Cup finals against unfancied opposition, from Swindon to Luton? – but mainly because it mixed things up a bit. And then there's the FA Cup, where – let's be generous – even moneybags Manchester City get a pass, albeit for this one trophy only, on account of their put-upon fans having not celebrated a single thing of note for … what did that flag at Old Trafford say again? So long may the trend of new additions to the modern roll of honour continue. Though admittedly we don't hold out too much hope, City's likely role in this situation being a particularly savage irony.

5) FC United

It's been a great season for the common fan sticking it to The Man. The major early-season story came at Liverpool, where the support did all they could to ride Tom Hicks and George Gillett out of town, launching an online campaign which went a long way to stymying the pair's attempts to organise refinance. (For the full story of Hicks and Gillett's jaw-dropping ineptitude, we recommend Brian Reade's highly entertaining An Epic Swindle, dedicated to "The Noise that refused to be dealt with".) Down the M62, FC United of Manchester have long been sticking it to the hated Glazer regime at Old Trafford, and their apogee – so far, anyway – came in November with their FA Cup first-round victory over League One Rochdale. The winner was admittedly an egregious disgrace, Mike Norton outrageously kicking the ball out of the goalkeeper's hands in the dying seconds, but no matter: this was an FA Cup shock for the ages – there were 95 league places between the two teams – and proof that there is joyous life beyond the big stage, and that big clubs can't afford to take advantage of their fanbases too much longer. A great result, though FC United's real crowning glory came the morning after, with the club refusing to speak to Football Focus in solidarity with the BBC hacks out on strike at the time. And when you boil it down to the bare bones, good old-fashioned left-wing collectivity is what all football support is built on.

6) MK Dons, whose fans really haven't thought it through, failing yet again to win promotion

All together now.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

FC United chief meets disaffected Bedford Town fans

 Source: Bedford Today

 Published on Thursday 19 May 2011 12:25

 ANDY Walsh, chief executive of FC United of Manchester, was the guest speaker at a public meeting in Bedford this week.

Andy was a prime driver in the establishment of FC United, formed by supporters disaffected with the takeover of Manchester United by the Glzzer family - a move that has seen the club take on a large debt.

Six years on FC United has enjoyed three promotions, attracts crowds of 2,000 to home games and is looking to move into its own stadium in the heart of the city.

He journeyed down to Bedford to offer his support to The BEST, who aim to lead a consortium to buy out Bedford Town Football Club and turn into into a community interest company.

Speaking to the Times & Citizen ahead of the meeting at Bedford Corn Exchange, he said: “The general message is to all the community who care about the football club, it is quite clear that the intention of The BEST is to put the football club at the centre of the community, and for the benefit of the wider community.

“Bedford have got a history of large crowds, but they are in difficult times, fighting off relegation for a couple of years but still attracting crowds of 300, impressive for their level.

“If you want to make comparisons with FC United of Manchester, we attract around 2,000, but off regular gates of 2,000 we have raised £2 million from our supporters. So with 300 supporters you can raise a lot of money.”

Bedford is currently in ownership, but Andy didn’t see that as a major obstacle. “The important thing is to ensure fans have a realistic say in the way the club is run.

“We couldn’t stop the Glazer takeover. We were a very important part of the campaign to stop them, and further along we came to set up FC United of Manchester.”

He scotched claims that the good principles of community interest companies would not work in the real world of football.

“Look at AFC Wimbledon, currently in the conference league play-offs. Look at Exeter, pressing for promotion.

“Look in Europe. Barcelona, it’s a supporter owned club.”

He continued: “Which chairmen can put their hand on their heart and say they don’t have the club’s best interests at heart? If they can, get these supporters involved, let them elect the board, or at least let them elect a member on to the board.

“The biggest challenge to overcome is cynicism, cynicism from people who don’t believe you can do it.

“They think people with money know how to run a football club, and supporters are oiks who don’t. Well, ourselves, AFC Wimbledon and others have shown that supporters can run clubs.”

He said club success was not the only measure of a good club.

“There are only two or three trophies for teams to go for in any season. Most teams in any league can’t win, so you can’t measure success by that.

“The success of a community club is on the terraces, the sense of camaraderie between the players and supporters. Everyone standing together in a common cause, rich man, poor man, rich woman, poor woman.”

Wrexham FC fans told: ‘Don’t give up on your dream’

 Source: Daily Post

 by Mark Currie, DPW West, May 19 2011

 SUPPORTERS of Wrexham FC have been told not to give up on their dream of one day owning the club and running it for the benefit of the wider community.

The message from Jules Spencer, a founding member of FC United of Manchester, was delivered at a public meeting that had been arranged by Wrexham Supporters’ Trust before Monday’s announcement that a bid by Shrewsbury businessman Jon Harris had been accepted by club owners Geoff Moss and Ian Roberts.

Although bitterly disappointed by the decision, the Trust decided to go ahead with a detailed presentation of the substance of and rationale for its own proposals designed to secure the long-term future of the club and the Racecourse Stadium as a community-based asset.

FC United director Spencer recalled he had spoken 12 months ago at a meeting that led to the formation of a fans-owned Chester FC after the city’s previous club had gone out of business under the chairmanship of recently jailed businessman and disqualified director, Stephen Vaughan.

“Chester fans did not know which way to turn because they had been kicked from pillar to post,” he said.

“They wanted their club back but you could sense the doubt and unease in the room because supporters had been told year in and year out to know their place, hand over their money and stand on the terraces.

“But (clubs like) AFC Wimbledon, FC United of Manchester and Chester FC have proved that to be wrong and, given that opportunity, you (Wrexham fans) can prove it as well.”

New Wrexham owner Mr Harris, formerly general manager at Shrewsbury Town, said on Monday his successful bid had been backed financially by millionaire Colin Poole, the disgraced former co-founder of Claims Direct, who is both a disqualified director and has been struck off as a solicitor.

Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, a member of the Trust and backer of the Trust’s ownership bid, has called on Business Secretary Vince Cable to examine any potential infringement of company law. Dave Boyle, chief executive of nationwide fans organisation, Supporters Direct, has asked the football authorities to subject both Mr Harris and Mr Poole to its “fit and proper person” test.

Trust chairman Richard Owen told the meeting: “We can still do this. We have a credible plan in place and we are ready to implement it again should we be given the opportunity.”

Asked whether the Trust would take up Mr Poole’s offer of a 25% shareholding in the club and a seat in the boardroom, Owen added: “We are still reeling from the news (of the takeover) and we need to meet as a board to discuss this.

“We need to understand exactly what the club is offering.”

But Kevin Jaquiss, a specialist lawyer with Manchester-based firm, Cobbetts, warned the Trust’s constitution was very specific with regard to any potential investment.

“The directors of the Trust have to be satisfied that any of its money it spends will be for the benefit of the community.”

An emergency motion was set to be put forward to Wrexham Council last night to discuss the club’s position.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mike Norton signs new FC United deal

 Source: M.E.N.

 Fc United goal ace Mike Norton has given the Rebels a major boost by signing up for next season.

The former Curzon hitman has penned a new 12-month deal with FC, enhancing their hopes of challenging for the Evo-Stik Premier title next term and staving off interest in him from at least two Blue Square Bet North clubs.

Norton, who joined FC from Curzon a year ago, struck 32 times in his debut campaign with the Rebels, earning himself the captaincy along the way.

But, significantly, both he and his equally feared strike partner, Jerome Wright, were suspended for United's promotion play-off final defeat to Colwyn Bay.

FC boss Karl Marginson said: “I'm obviously delighted Norts is staying, not just for his strike rate but for his workrate and leadership, too.

“I want to keep our squad together as far as possible and I'm in discussion with other players about next season."

Norton committing his future to FC will also thrill the club's legion of fans, who have just voted him their play-of-the-season.

Meanwhile, the Rebels have announced they're to face their landlords Bury in a pre-season friendly at Gigg Lane on Saturday July 23.

Altrincham will tomorrow draw up a shortlist of candidates for their vacant manager's job, with interviews due to begin later this week.

Applicants have until today to register their interest in the position created by Ken McKenna's surprise resignation.

Robins chairman Grahame Rowley said: “We have a huge number of applications to sift through and there are some familar - and some interesting names - among them.”

Northwich Victoria's former Bury chief Andy Preece is being tipped as a strong contender to replace McKenna, who quit in the wake of Alty's relegation to Blue Square Bet North.

Alty's fans, meanwhile, have voted to retain the club's traditional red-and-white striped shirts for next season in favour of a proposed switch to red-and-back.

Hyde are also due to start interviewing for a new boss this week. Ex-Curzon Ashton chief Gary Lowe is regarded as favourite for the job.

McManus is first summer signing

 Source: Halifax Courier

 SCOTT McManus has become the first player to join Town since promotion, arriving from last season’s Evo-Stik Premier Division rivals FC United of Manchester.

And boss Neil Aspin is expecting big things from the 21-year-old who began his career as a Manchester United youngster and was also on the books at Crewe Alexandra.

“He is a young player who we feel can get better,” said Aspin. “Scott played League football for Crewe but things did not work out for him there.

“He was with FC United last season when they did well in FA Cup games with Rochdale and Brighton, but didn’t play against us because he was suspended.

“But his return to the side coincided with them doing well in the league and he was part of their side that did really well towards the end of the season.

“He is a good footballer who is comfortable in possession.”

McManus, who can play on the left of defence or midfield, played 47 games for FC United after joining them last summer.

Liam Hogan is already under contract at the Shay for next season, but there has still been no official word on the futures of either Andrew Milne or Mark Bower for the 2011-12 campaign.

Aspin has to speak to the duo, who linked up with Hogan in the closing weeks of the campaign.

The manager has confirmed that Harry Winter will be with the Shaymen next season.

Injury destroyed the midfielder’s hopes of making an impact last season after he returned to the club from Northwich, having spent a successful spell on loan at the Shay in 2009-10.

“I signed Harry because I know he can do well for us,” said Aspin. “But he never had a chance because of his injury.

“He will definitely be at the club next season.”

Richard Metcalfe will definitely not be at the club next term after spending the final months of last season on loan at Harrogate Town who he is expected to join on a permanent basis.

Supporters Direct Fans' Weekend 2011


 The Supporters Direct Fans' Weekend, including the Annual Conference and SD Cup, will take place in Chester, on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th July 2011.

The Conference will be held at The Queen Hotel on the Friday, whilst the SD Cup will round off a Fans' Day held on the Saturday at the Exacta Stadium, home of Chester F.C.

As well as the annual conference, and the launching of two policy papers (‘Financing Community Ownership & Supporter Involvement’ and ‘Business Advantages of Supporter & Community Ownership’), Friday evening and Saturday will have supporter-related entertainment on offer.

After the opening sessions, workshops and AGM, Friday will conclude with an evening of comedy, headlined by BBC Fighting Talk regular Bob Mills.

Any regular listeners will be familiar with Bob’s razor-sharp wit and unashamed love for Leyton Orient, and his set promises to be a memorable one. He will be supported by Jeremy O’Donnell and two other acts TBC. The event gets underway at the Queen Hotel in Chester at 8pm, tickets are just £12.

Attractions for the Fans' day include stands for various organisations, a marquee that will host the speakers for the day, a BBQ and the prestigious Supporters Direct Cup match, contested this year by Chester F.C and F.C United. Half-time entertainment will be provided by another final: that of the Trust Movement 5-a-side tournament.

The Supporters Direct marquee will host keynote speeches from David Conn (The Guardian), David Goldblatt (author of The Ball is Round), Andy Walsh (F.C United) and Chris Pilsbury (Chester F.C) amongst others.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yes vote passed for Eagles fan plan

 Source: Bedfordshire News

 The general manager of FC United of Manchester was in Bedford this week to show support for the Eagles Supporters’ Trust (BEST) at their Annual General Meeting (AGM) over plans for fans to bid for a 75 per cent stake in Bedford Town.

The Trust’s aim is to raise £50,000 from fans in Bedford as part of a consortium in order to try to acquire the majority stake in the Zamaretto Premier Division outfit and convert it into a Community Interest Company (CIC) by 2015.

In a meeting attended by 30 people (with six apologies and five voting by proxy) 21 voting in favour of the strategy and none against for the project which the have called, ‘The Best way forward – a future for the Eagles’.

Richard Fuller MP, councillor Stephen Moon (whose ward includes the club’s Eyrie ground) and Patrick Hall (former MP and BEST president) supported the bid.

Walsh General spoke about the 5,000 FC United members and £3.5 million that has been raised by fans to start a new club largely due to their dissatisfaction of the takeover of Premier League Manchester United by the Glazer family.

He said that the plan was modest and urged fans to aim for the sky saying: “Reach out and set that target higher.

We raised £3.5 million from 2,000 fans against a target of half a million.” Asked why he came to support BEST, he added: “It is part of our responsibility to help other fans who seek a stake in their clubs.

“We believe fans should have a say in every club in the land. That will only happen if those fortunate enough to support fan owned clubs offer support and assistance.”

He pointed to more than 150 Trusts in different guises from Enfield, Exeter City, Chester, Telford and Luton Town’s Conference play-off final opponents, AFC Wimbledon.

Friday, May 13, 2011

BEST holds Eagles public meeting

 Source: Bedford Today

 The man who runs one of Britain’s biggest supporter-led football clubs addressed a public meeting in Bedford on Thursday night.

Andy Walsh, general manager of FC United of Manchester - set up in protest at the takeover of Manchester United - spoke in support of plans by the Bedford Eagles Supporters Trust (The BEST) to build a consortium to buy a controlling stake in Bedford Town FC.

The BEST state 40 people attended the meeting at the Howard Rooms - including Bedford MP Richard Fuller and Bedford Borough Council chief executive Phil Simkins.

Mr Walsh spoke about the large membership and money that has been raised by fans to start a new club.

BEST spokesman Tim Caswell said: “He said that the plan for BEST to raise £50,000 from fans in Bedford as part of a consortium to bid for a stake on Bedford Town FC and convert it into a Community Interest Company by 2015 was modest.

“He urged fans to aim for the sky saying ‘reach out and set that target higher. We raised 3.5 million from 2000 fans against a target of half a million’.”

Bedford Town is currently owned by David Howell who has refused to officially recognise The BEST, stating it lacks credibility.

The BEST AGM voted in favour of the strategy, “The Best way forward - a future for the Eagles” with none against.

Terry Pavey Executive Chairman of BEST said, “Launching this project tonight has taken a lot of hard work by a few dedicated people. Now we need to reach out and continue that hard work to make this vision come true.

“I will be taking a team from BEST to Manchester to learn more about the innovative ways we can involve many more people. Then we will make further announcements about buying shares, loan schemes, tax efficiency and a business model that protects the fans investment and gives us working capital to sustain the new community club.”

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wrexham FC Supporters Trust step up campaign to buy club

Source: Daily Post

* by Steve Bagnall, DPW East
* May 12 2011

THE battle for Wrexham FC intensified today with the club’s largest supporter group launching the second phase of their bid to buy the Dragons.

Buoyed by the success of their “Million Reasons” sharehold venture – which secured more than £200,000 in indicative offers from fans to buy shares to run the club – the Wrexham Supporters Trust (WST) today unveiled their “Roadmap” scheme.

With the Dragons out of the play-offs to get back into the Football League after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss at Luton Town, WST believe now is the time to push to buy the club, The Racecourse Ground and Colliers Park training ground.

Yesterday they revealed they were ready to fully launch a community share scheme facilitated by Supporters Direct and law firm Cobbetts Law, who have facilitated similar plans for other clubs.

They said they were aiming to get a majority ownership of the club and give the assets back to the community.

And with prospective buyer Stephanie Booth now out of the race and Colin Poole remaining tight lipped on his position, the trust revealed more details on how they would create a sustainable club.

An open meeting has been set for Tuesday next week at Glyndwr University to hear about the progress of the bid and the Roadmap to achieve community ownership.

Chairman of Wrexham Supporters Trust, Richard Owen said: “This season has been full of twists and turns, like no other.

“Whilst we just fell short in our efforts to win promotion back to the football league, there is a chance to make a long lasting difference off the pitch and the time is right for the community to take on this challenge.

“I urge Wrexham fans and potential investors to turn up in numbers on Tuesday 17 May to show your support for our club.

“A community based bid for Wrexham Football Club led by the Wrexham Supporters Trust.”

The Roadmap plan includes details on acquiring the club subject to membership approval.

The trust want to invest their £400,000 in working capital and finalise a business and budget plan for next season following due diligence of the club’s finances.

They want to asset lock the Racecourse by placing it into a community interest company (CIC), generate more income through maximising assets and look to attract outside investment to return the Racecourse to an international standard venue.

At Tuesday’s meeting they will hear speakers with experience of delivering similar plans including Kevin Jaquiss of Cobbetts Law, FC United who have raised over £1.4 million in a community shares scheme, and Chester FC who are back on the way up after supporters took ownership.

Yesterday Wrexham MP Ian Lucas backed the Trust’s venture.

He said: “I’m delighted to support the WST’s bid to acquire Wrexham FC and hope that the owners take this opportunity to leave a legacy of community ownership for the people of Wrexham.

“I believe that this community-led bid is in the best long-term interest of Wrexham as a town.”

l THE WST launch meeting will be held in the William Aston Hall at Glyndr University starting at 7:30pm.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

FC United fall at final hurdle

 Source: M.E.N.

 Video links: (Andy Walsh) and (Rob Dawson)

 Rob Dawson
 May 03, 2011

FC United’s incredible season came to an end with a 1-0 defeat to Colwyn Bay in the Evo-Stik Premier League play-off final.

Former Bury striker Jon Newby scored the only goal of the game to condemn United to a third season in the third-tier of non-league football and send the 1,500 travelling fans home disappointed.

“That their goalkeeper has been named man-of-the-match really says it all for me,” said the Rebels manager Karl Marginson.

“I don’t want to say we were the better side because we’ve ended up losing but we dominated possession and caused them problems.

“They were good defensively and the keeper has done what he’s supposed to do.

“If we’d have scored when we were well on top then we would have gone on to greater things.

Marginson added: “I’m a little bit disappointed with the way we defended for the goal but I can’t really fault the players. Not just for today but for everything they’ve done this season.

“It’s an absolutely monumental achievement to get to this stage.

“We’ve had the FA Cup run and the fans have had a ball in the sun even though we’ve lost. We can take a lot from this season and we’ve got to be proud.”

Marginson added: “We’ll have another go at getting up next year but do it as champions.

“I can’t wait for next season already, I can’t wait.

Evo-Stik Premier play-off final: Colwyn Bay 1 FC United of Manchester 0

Source: Daily Post

JON NEWBY is the toast of Colwyn Bay after hitting the 69th minute winner that has earned the club back to back promotions and put the Llanelian Road side into the Blue Square Conference North next season.

And the former Liverpool and Bury forward said he rated it as among the best moments in his football career.

“I’ve had a few high points, but this is right up there among the best of them,” said the 32-year-old. “It means so much to the players as a group because we were written off at the start of the season.

“It is great for the fans who follow us around the country. This success is for them more than anybody, but it is just a fantastic day for everyone connected with the club.”

It was Newby’s experience that helped him keep his cool to put away the winning goal after he beat FC United’s offside trap with a perfectly timed run.

“I was telling myself just to stay cool and hit the target and it was a fantastic feeling to see the ball go in the net,” he added.

It has also been a wonderful season for skipper Damien Allen who spent the last 18 months of his time at Bury out of action through injury before joining the Seagulls at the start of the season.

The former Manchester United junior said: “Nothing beats this. I am very proud to be captain of such a great bunch of lads. They work really hard for each other. We have defended really well since Christmas and that is what has got us where we are more than anything.”

Player-boss Dave Challinor said that to win promotion in his first season as a manager was beyond his wildest dreams.

“I am so proud and feel quite emotional really,” he said.

“At the start of the season I just wanted to consolidate and to have got promotion is just an unbelievable achievement.

“It is all down to a fantastic bunch of lads who are really close and work their socks off for each other. And I am so pleased because this is such a nice club and the people here deserve it.”

FC United came with a huge following and probably just edged the game on possession, but they couldn’t get through a Colwyn Bay defence that has kept seven clean sheets in their last eight games to take them into an exciting new chapter in their history.

After a goalless first half in which neither keeper was really tested, it needed two fine saves from Bay’s Chris Sanna in the second half to prevent the Manchester side going in front.

He dived to turn away a deflected shot from Nicky Platt that looked to be heading for the net, and then leapt to turn a goalbound header from Scott McManus over the bar.

Colwyn Bay had certainly missed the attacking threat of injured Jimmy McCarthy on the right, but as the game began to open up, Joe McMahon headed narrowly wide from an Anthony Sheehan free kick and then Rob Hopley broke clear only to blaze his chance over the bar.

But Newby sent Llanelian Road wild five minutes later when he broke clear and kept his head to slide the ball past advancing keeper Sam Ashton for the only goal of the game.

Substitute Alex Titchiner went close to adding a second when he beat two defenders on a great run on the break only for his shot to narrowly clear the bar with Ashton beaten.

FC United piled on the pressure in the closing minutes, but Colwyn Bay’s defence held firm to clinch a tremendous day for the club.

COLWYN BAY: Sanna, Denson, Lea, Meadowcroft, McMahon, McLachlan, Sheehan, Allen, Hopley (Davey 81), Newby (Grannon 85), Noon (Titchiner 59). Subs: Evans, Challinor.

Day of great celebration for Colwyn Bay

 Source: Daily Post

 * by Owen R Hughes, DPW West
 * May 3 2011

 THE seaside town of Colwyn Bay was celebrating in the sun after one of the biggest matches in its football club’s history on the same day as 50,000 descended for Prom Day.

Police were out in force as FC United of Manchester arrived with around 2,000 supporters, despite only 1,000 having tickets for the crunch promotion play-off final.

This followed reports United’s manager had urged ticketless fans to travel to the match at Bay’s Llanelian Road ground and watch from an adjacent hill.

But despite hundreds of fans swarming around Old Colwyn, combined with the thousands attending the promenade event, the day passed relatively peacefully apart from a few scuffles following the only goal in Bay’s 1-0 victory that takes them up to the Blue Square North.

Cllr Chris Hughes, a Colwyn Bay fan, said: “It has been a fantastic day – first we went to the Prom Day and then watched the match. There was a tremendous atmosphere at the match and at the prom. This is a great day for Colwyn Bay and we will be celebrating tonight.”

He added: “There were a couple of incidents involving United fans during the match but walking home there were no problems that we could see.”

Before the match supporters were greeted at Colwyn Bay railway station by two police riot vans.

Several pubs in the town centre were busy, with supporters spilling out into the streets. There was also a huge congregation of FC United fans at the Marine Hotel in Old Colwyn as supporters made their way up to the Llanelian Road ground for the 3pm kick-off.

As well as the 2,000 in the ground there were up to 600 supporters, mainly from Manchester, up on the hill above the pitch. Fan John Williams said: “There was a great atmosphere although there were a few scuffles on the hill after the goal.

“It was mainly FC United fans up there but there were some Bay lads. When the goal went in they were attacked by some of the United fans but the police were quick to deal with it. It’s a great day for Colwyn Bay.”

Police Inspector Glen Brumby said: “The match proceeded peacefully. There was one arrest for a minor public order offence.” Twenty officers were on duty to cover the match and Prom Day.

Monday, May 02, 2011

FC United can take another step towards the Football League with play-off triumph

 Source: Daily Mail

 FC United are on the brink of a fourth promotion in six seasons as they prepare to face Colwyn Bay in the EvoStik Premier League play-off final.

The ambitious club, formed in 2005 by disenchanted supporters of Manchester United, have been on an upward curve since starting out in the North West Counties League Division Two.

And victory over Colwyn in Wales would elevate United to the Conference North, just two promotions away from the Football League.

Despite having lost twice to Bay in the league this season, FC United manager Karl Marginson is confident his side can prevail.

He said: 'Colwyn beat us twice in the league but they were close games so we have nothing to fear – especially since we beat Rochdale in the FA Cup and then did so well against Brighton.

'Dave Challinor is their manager and he’s experienced and has a big team that concentrates on set pieces with good movement up top.

'My message to the lads who are sensible about these things is to enjoy the Bank Holiday weekend and then let’s give it our best on Monday afternoon.

'We are physically strong as you would expect at this stage of the season. We have the ability to beat them and continue our remarkable progress.'