Monday, September 10, 2012

FC United face FA Cup tie with Salford City

Source: MEN

Salford City have drawn FC United in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup.

The sides will meet Saturday September 22 at Hurst Cross.

Curzon Ashton host Bradford (Park Avenue), while Altrincham travel to Shildon.

Ashton United were handed a home draw against Marine and Droylsden go to the winner of Ossett Town and Whitby Town.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

FC United march on

Source: The FA

FC United of Manchester marched into the Second Qualifying Round of The FA Cup, as they scored a thumping 5-0 victory over Cammell Laird on Sunday with striker Mike Norton scoring twice.

Lee Neville and Jerome Wright were also on target, while an own goal completed a difficult afternoon for the visitors and a memorable one for the hosts.

FC United were 3-0 up by half time and always looked in control at Gigg Lane in front of a crowd of 1,024.

Elsewhere, AFC Dunstable produced an excellent 4-2 away victory at London Lions while Godalming Town and Dulwich Hamlet drew 2-2 and now face a replay.

Cray Wanderers are through, however, following a narrow and hard-fought 1-0 away win at Greenwich Borough.

A late, late goal by substitute Jamie Darvill -who only arrived on the pitch after 75 minutes - put Cray through when he headed home a Michael Power cross right at the death.

Marginson inspired by 2010

Source: The FA

Karl Marginson’s FC United of Manchester had a 'Eureka moment' when his side beat Rochdale 3-2 in The FA Cup in 2010, securing the best result in the club's history. Now, two years on, the manager is hoping for another one.

Elaborating on the win, which set up a Second Round Proper tie with Brighton which they then drew, Marginson reveals that the headline-grabbing Cup run completely transformed the way his side play.

He said: "We had a fantastic experience a couple of years ago beating Rochdale in the First Round and took Brighton into a replay.

"Playing against Brighton, the players went out and played some fantastic football - and it really was a Eureka moment that I had as a coach. Watching them play; it was an inspiring moment."

Marginson describes the victory over Rochdale as a morale booster for not only the team but the fans as well.

He added: "That just whet the appetite of not only myself, but our supporters. They support us for that kind of thing."

Coinciding with their record run in The FA Cup, Marginson quit his job running a fruit and vegetable delivery company to manage the club full time. Describing the consequences of becoming a 24/7 manager, Marginson admitted: "It has changed my life beyond recognition.

"The things that I’m able to do now - not only the with the first team and the older players - but with my job at the Manchester college producing players and helping them with their development.

"It is a real chance to have an impact on young peoples’ lives which is really worthwhile and very fulfilling as a job.

"It’s essential to any club that they’re producing players of a good quality and we want to produce kids who play fantastic football and build careers for themselves.”

While Marginson acknowledges the importance of supporting the youth players, he reserved special praise for Mike Norton - who scored that famous winning goal in their FA cup victory against Rochdale.

He says of Norton: "He’s still the top goalscorer. That’s his final objective and that’s his job, he’s a fantastic player to work with."

FC United of Manchester v Cammell Laird
The FA Cup with Budweiser
First Round Qualifying
3pm, Sunday 9 September 2012
Gigg Lane, Bury FC
Winning clubs receive £3000 from The FA's prize fund

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Wolfenden’s Rebels winner

Source: MEN

FC United moved up to fourth in the Evo-Stik Premier Division with a 1-0 win at struggling Whitby Town, writes Chris Ostick.

A Matt Wolfenden strike in the 58th minute was enough to seal the points for the Rebels against a side still looking for their first win of the season.

An Aaron Burns goal three minutes from time earned Ashton United a 2-2 draw with AFC Fylde at Hurst Cross.

Mark Peers gave the Robins a first-half lead from the penalty spot after Ben Deegan was fouled in the box.

Jack Dorney and Richie Allen scored after the break, however, to give the visitors a lead, before Burns struck late on to leave Ashton third, two points behind leaders Marine.

Both sides now turn to the FA Cup first qualifying round where FC United play Cammell Laird at Gigg Lane on Sunday and Ashton travel to Prescot Cables on Saturday.

Chris Ostick

September 06, 2012

Chairman calm as Blues fall to sixth defeat

Source: Whitby Gazette

Published on Thursday 6 September 2012 07:10

WHITBY Town’s winless start to the season continued when they suffered a second close defeat to title contenders FC United of Manchester in just over a fortnight.

Having been applauded off the pitch in a 3-2 defeat in Lancashire last month, another tight game beckoned on Wednesday - but a single goal consigned Whitby to a sixth defeat in succession.

Despite the alarming start, chairman Graham Manser believes a swift change of fortune is just around the corner.

“If any more opposing chairmen congratulate the Blues on their performance and standard of football and state that they don’t know why we haven’t won a game, I will throw myself off the pier,” he said in his programme notes.

“With the exception of one, each game has been lost by a single goal and in the exception we lost by two goals in stoppage time.

“I am not too despondent, the team is playing well and I feel it is only a matter of time before the results are achieved.”

Despite the sides’ contrasting fortunes in the league so far, there was little to choose between them as chances were at a premium in a tight first half.

Whitby’s Graeme Armstrong had the first crack at goal after some neat build-up play but the big frontman dragged his shot wide.

FC United threatened in the air with impressive centre back Adam Jones thumping a header goalwards from a deep corner but not enough to trouble Liversedge.

FC United’s Mike Norton had an unexpected chance to open the scoring from the type of slip-up that boss Darren Williams is so keen to stamp out.

Keeper Liversedge was dispossessed on the edge of the box by Norton who slid the ball right across the face of goal from an acute angle.

Whitby might have edged in front just before half-time had Shane Henry’s shot well struck shot from skipper Mark Robinson’s cross not been blocked en route to the top of the net.

The Blues’ man of the match Tom Portas then went close after the restart with a lung-bursting run forward before unleashing a skimming past keeper James Spencer but a fraction wide of the far post.

However, the Bury-based visitors got that stroke of luck which has agonisingly eluded Whitby so far this season on 58 minutes. Norton’s header from a deep cross from the right was tipped on to the bar by Liversedge but Matthew Wolfenden was on hand to convert the rebound.

Whitby instantly set out to level the scores and it took an alert stop from Spencer when Henry played a neat one-two with Nathan Mulligan before cracking a decent hit towards goal.

In one of Whitby’s slickest moves of the game, the ball was played out wide to sub Jamie Clarke, in his first game back at the Turnbull since arriving back from Darlington 1883. The veteran striker drove a smart ball across goal and it missed Robinson’s outstretched foot by millimetres.

Defender Alex White, fresh from scoring against AFC Fylde on Saturday, then strode forward and tried his luck with a speculative rocket which kept on rising.

With the introduction of Clarke, Whitby looked more creative but late substitutions combined with United players dramatising injuries to run down the clock ensured the visitors left with the three points, while Darren Williams’ men are left to rue what might have been.

Whitby Town: Liversedge, James, Robinson (c), Burgess, White, Portas, Hassan (Snaith), Tait, Armstrong (Clarke), Mulligan, Henry. Attendance: 482.

Whitby Town 0 FC United of Manchester 1

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

You are here Sport > Football Blues hoping for bumper gate - and first points

Source: Whitby Gazette

WHITBY Town are hoping for a bumper gate tonight (Wed)- and their first points of the season - when they take on high-fliers FC United of Manchester at the Turnbull Ground.

The Blues have endured a nightmare start, with five EvoStik League defeats out of five, but boss Darren Williams insists all their matches so far have been close and that Whitby have dominated much of these fixtures, without reward.

Whitby ran FC United close in a 3-2 reverse last month and were applauded off the pitch by the large crowd at Bury’s Gigg Lane - Williams sees no reason why that level of performance can’t be repeated.

He told the Whitby Gazette: “We are looking forward to tonight’s game.

“We know it will be a good footballing game, it will not be a scrappy game or a long ball situation.

“I’ve spoken to a few of FC United’s backroom staff who have said ‘we’ll see if we can come to your place and snatch your wallet again.’”

Although the Blues played well in August’s away match, Williams is aware that tonight could be a completely different scenario.

“We will have to work hard to get the spoils,” he stressed.

“Fingers crossed we will be able to get our first points on the board and give the lads a lift ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup tie.”

With the weather forecast looking good for today, it is hoped the fixture will attract a good crowd, with more than 600 turning up to see last season’s clash between the two.

“Hopefully, people can see how well we’ve played - it’s not a case of us getting trounced every week because we’re not good enough,” he added.

“We’ve just been creating our own problems and if we cut those out, we will be okay.”

Tonight’s game kicks off at 7.45pm.

* See Friday’s Whitby Gazette for report of Whitby v FC United game.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Security warning after FC United attacks

 Source: MEN

 FC United are to step up security when building work starts on their new stadium, after a spate of attacks.

As revealed by the M.E.N. last week, vandals used weedkiller to etch a protest in the turf of the Ronald Johnson Playing Fields, where they plan to move.

Attackers burnt out 10ft letters spelling out ‘No to FC Utd’ on the land in Moston, poured concrete into goal posts and sprayed anti-FC United graffiti on a container in an attack branded ‘pathetic’ by council chiefs.

The club have been given planning permission to build a 5,000-capacity stadium on the fields and had hoped to start work before the autumn.

But a residents’ group opposed to the £3.5m plans, Residents United Residents Association, is seeking a judicial review.

It issued papers to Manchester council, which has now responded. And it is now up to the group to decide whether to mount such a challenge at the High Court.

Andy Walsh, FC United general manager, said that similar attacks over the past 12-months have forced the club to set money aside for site security.

He said: “This is a small group of people and by no means reflective.

“Moston Juniors, the junior club who, until recently, played at the fields, have suffered considerable vandalism over the last 12 months.

“Unfortunately they could not afford a security provision on the site.

“When we go on the site we have earmarked provision for a security presence.

“It is sad that a small group of people would vandalise the facilities of a junior club.

“We will be able to offer them protection from those who seek to destroy facilities for young people to play sport.”

The M.E.N. understands that RURA now has until the end of September to consider the council’s response.

If it decides to press on, a judge will then be tasked with ruling whether its case carries enough weight to justify a judicial review. Annette McGovern, chair of RURA, said: “The council has responded and we are not going to back down. We will take this as far as we can.

“We believe that there are environmental issues and that the planning process was fundamentally flawed.”

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Witton Albion protect unbeaten record against fast-starters FC United of Manchester

 Source: Northwich Guardian

 Witton Albion v FC United of Manchester (Kick off 3pm)
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division
Venue Help for Heroes Stadium
Referee Jonathan Hunt (Liverpool)
Admission Adults £9, Concessions (NUS/ OAP) £6, U15s £3, Armed Forces personnel Free (on production of valid ID)
Odds (Coral) Witton 8/5, Draw 12/5, FC United 5/4
Previous meeting Witton 2 FC United 1 (Northern Premier League Premier Division, January 24 2009)

Witton (from) Cooper (GK), Booth, Gardner, Glover, Harrison, Wood, Andrews, Cross, Fallon, Hancock, Schofield, Sheehan, Woolley, Buchan, Gahgan, Moseley, Stott, Tuck
Doubtful Cross (match fitness)
Injured Connors (calf), Shaw (ankle)
Suspended none
Disciplinary record (last season) Y32 R4
Top scorers Anthony Gardner, Shaun Tuck (both 2)
Title odds (SKY Bet) 40/1
Form (Past six home in league) W
Record (home) P1 W1 D0 L0 F2 A1 Pts 3
Record (overall) P3 W2 D1 L0 F5 A3 Pts7

FC United (from) Spencer (GK), Worsnop (GK), Anderson, Armstrong, Jacobs, Jones, Krou, Neville, Munroe, Stott, Birch, Cheetham, Cottrell, Grimshaw, Johnson, Platt, Roca, Wright, Amadi, Norton, Wolfenden
Doubtful none
Injured Giggs (broken foot)
Suspended none
Disciplinary record (last season) Y59 R7
Top scorer Michael Norton (3)
Title odds (Bet Victor) 9/2
Form (Past six away in league) W
Record (away) P1 W1 D0 L0 F4 A2 Pts3
Record (overall) P3 W3 D0 L0 F11 A4 Pts9

Match pointers
WITTON take on tomorrow, Monday, one of the five teams to have won each of its opening three league matches in FC United of Manchester.

The Rebels put four goals past Matlock Town on Saturday, meaning only Ashton United have scored more than Karl Marginson’s men in the season’s first seven days.

Seven different players have been on target for the Manchester men in that time.

Witton have a proud record to protect as well; a weekend draw at Worksop Town taking to 19 the number of league games without defeat since mid February.

Midfield pair Steve Connors (calf) and Joe Shaw (ankle) continues to convalesce, although Matt Cross may be named as a substitute after shaking off a calf strain.

Wide man Chris Gahgan is available again too.

The visitors have named the same starting line-up for each of their games so far, although midfielder Nick Platt featured for the first time this term as a substitute at the weekend.

Striker Kris Amadi, a new recruit from Ashton United, is yet to play though.

Two previous meetings with Witton have yielded 11 goals, including a 2-1 success for Albion in January 2009 when they last played at this level.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cammell Laird must take FA Cup chance and book tie with FC United of Manchester, says manager Read More

 Source: Liverpool Echo

 CAMMELL LAIRD can book an exciting FA Cup tie with FC United of Manchester – if they overcome an unknown side from Hull.

Tony Sullivan’s men make the trip to Barton Town Old Boys this afternoon in the preliminary round stage of the competition.

Sullivan says not only are the finances on offer from a potential game at Gigg Lane a major incentive but the prospect of playing against such a well supported non-league side should also serve as real motivation for his players.

Laird have started the Evo-Stik First Division North season with a draw and a defeat with Jamie Henders netting four times.

But Sullivan has challenged the striker to maintain his form whilst asking the squad to make the most of their FA Cup opportunity today.

“We are not going to take Barton lightly at all,” said Sullivan.

“We are going there with a game plan to try and get something out of the game.

“We will properly prepare and hopefully get through to the next round.

“Potentially the next round could be a financially fantastic reward for the club. Going to FC United is the carrot at the end of today’s game.

“It is a fixture that can only help the club.

“Yes, it would be great for my CV but more importantly, what an opportunity for the players to play in front of over 1,000 fans at Gigg Lane.

“Victory in the FA Cup can kick start a season as well.

“Before that next big tie, everyone is playing for the shirt.”

Henders is likely to start up front for Lairds this afternoon following his four goals in two games, but Sullivan says he cannot rest on his laurels.

“Jamie has had a great start to the season,” he said.

“Jamie has got fantastic ability but he will be the first to tell you that he has not always been the player we know he can be.

“He has started the season on fire but we expect more of that.

“He has shown everyone his capabilities in the first two games but he has got to do that for the 44 games over the course of the season.

“He has a good attitude and hopefully this form will continue.”

Also in the FA Cup: Padiham v Burscough; AFC Liverpool v Cables and Irlam v Runcorn Town.

Read More

Friday, August 24, 2012

FC United's proposed new ground in Moston vandalised in weedkiller protest

 Source: MEN

 Vandals have used weedkiller to etch a protest against FC United's move to Moston into the turf of their proposed new home.

The attackers burnt 10ft letters spelling out 'No to FC Utd' in the grass of the Ronald Johnson Playing fields.

They went on to pour concrete into holes drilled for goal posts and spray anti-FC United grafitti on a storage container in a spree branded 'pathetic' by council chiefs.

The site is set to become a 5,000-capacity stadium for FC United, which was formed in protest of the Glazer family's ownership of Manchester United.

It was previously home to amateurs Moston Juniors, who are currently playing their matches elsewhere after similar attacks in recent months.

FC United were given planning permission to build their £3.5m complex on the site last October.

A residents group opposed to the stadium, Residents United Residents Association, have launched a bid to force a judicial review.

The M.E.N. revealed that they had served papers on town hall bosses last month.

Officials from FC United had hoped to start work on the project this summer and be in the ground for next season.

They had hoped to turn around some of the pitches to allow Moston Juniors to carry on playing there while work was going on.

But the delays caused by the challenge, coupled with the repeated attacks, have led to the club, which has 15 teams ranging from Under 7s to Under 18s, to move elsewhere.

Matches are currently being played in Blackley, Failsworth and at Heaton Park.

A spokesman for Moston Juniors said they were saddened by the attacks.

He said: “We are concerned about the continuing threat of vandalism and graffiti.

“It is disturbing that there are people from the local community who feel it is necessary to cause further damage to the facilities.

“It would be better if they talked to the partners involved to achieve a solution that is acceptable to all of those concerned.”

Local councillor Luthfur Rahman said: "There is no excuse for this kind of vandalism.

“Damaging a pitch used by one of the biggest amateur junior football teams in Manchester is just pathetic."

FC United declined to comment on the attack.

Grantham Town’s opening game bumper crowd ‘had their money’s worth’

 Source: Grantham Journal

 A HUGE attendance witnessed Grantham Town’s return to the Northern Premier League Premier Division at The Meres on Saturday.

A crowd of more than 1,200 saw the Gingerbreads battle valiantly against one of the title favourites, FC United of Manchester. The Manchester side brought more than 700 fans who sang and chanted throughout the 90 minutes.

Grantham enjoyed what joint manager Wayne Hallcro termed a “dream start” early on to send the home crowd wild, but it was not to be Town’s day. Back on level terms, FC United went in front after the break after the home keeper was red carded. The match ended 4-2.

Hallcro said: “Looking at what we’ve achieved, there’s a lot of plus points. Hopefully people have had there money’s worth today. Young lads coming through the gates have probably never seen that atmosphere up here before. It was all good apart from the result.”

Co-boss Jimmy Albans re-iterated Hallcro’s sentiments: “This is what we’ve wanted for years. That’s the type of crowd we and the players want to play in front of. I hope they liked what they saw.”

Following the opening game defeat, the Gingerbreads immediately got back on track with a 1-0 win at Stafford Rangers on Tuesday night – finishing again with just 10 men.

Albans said: “Stafford was more like the week to week game we will be facing for the rest of the season. Our communication and togetherness will take us a long way this season. That showed by playing for 50 minutes with 10 men.

“With the way we set up, if we do get a man sent off, we can just drop one of the front two deeper into midfield and continue to play the same way from the back. On the night we deserved the goal and now need to keep on playing the same way and keep our good form.

“In any season, the first three points are always the hardest to get. Now we have got them, it doesn’t take any pressure off Wayne and me, but it does lift it from the players. There were signs of a lack of pressure on Tuesday night. We played a very relaxed game.”

Grantham can expect a tough encounter at Chorley tomorrow, despite the Lancashire side losing in midweek. Albans said that changes would be necessary due to a large amount of absentees – Rhys Lewis, Damien Magee, Gio Carchedi, Connor Higginson, Ash Robinson – with Martin Ball doubtful.

Albans said: “We are all looking forward to the game. We wanted to be here and everyone is enjoying every minute of it. The pressure is off us, but is on the opposition. Our consistency and style of play makes it difficult for opponents and easier for us.”

l Match reports on page 78 with more on the FC United game on page 4.

Catalogue of injuries hit Matlock hard ahead of trip to FC United

 Source: Derby Telegraph

 IT is a Matlock Town side missing several first-team players who manager Mark Atkins will take to FC United of Manchester tomorrow.

The Gladiators' catalogue of injuries began even before the first game, when central defender Laurence Gaughan tore his hamstring, leading to a potential eight weeks on the sidelines.

Full-back Micky Harcourt was forced off after 20 minutes in the 5-0 defeat by Nantwich Town with a foot injury, then X-rays revealed that substitute Ben Algar had a broken metatarsal.

Midfielder James Ashmore lasted only eight minutes at Frickley Athletic on Tuesday before being carried off with ankle ligament damage and faces a couple of months' lay-off.

"Thank goodness we've got a big squad because it looks like we'll need it," said Atkins.

"That's why I brought all the lads in that I did, particularly with the hectic start to the season.

"We've also got Kris Bowler with a rib injury, Lewis McMahon has a bad ankle and Joe Leesley an Achilles knock."

Gareth Davies and Nathan Joynes will be added to the squad for tomorrow's trip to Gigg Lane and the home fixture against Rushall Olympic on Bank Holiday Monday (3pm).

Both opponents have 100% records after the opening two games, while Tuesday's 2-1 success at Frickley Athletic, achieved when late goals, from McMahon, from the penalty spot, and Leesley, overturned a deficit and saw Matlock leap from bottom to eleventh place.

"FC United will be up there," said Atkins.

"They're a very good side and will probably be in the play-offs – if they don't win the league.

"The big question is, can we handle them defensively and can we also create and take enough opportunities to hurt them?

"Rushall, meanwhile, had a very good first season at this level. They're strong and very well organised so it'll be another tough one for us."

Last Saturday's hammering by Nantwich is still in the thoughts of Atkins and his side, who are keen to erase the memories of Matlock's worst opening day at home since joining the Northern Premier League in 1969-70.

"We got exactly what we deserved," he said.

"Nantwich were by miles the better side but we weren't at the races.

"Of the 14 players we used, I wasn't happy with any one of them.

"There was no determination, no thought to our play, just long balls to their centre-halves. It was a very poor performance."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ten-man Grantham Town scrap out defeat to FC United of Manchester in season opener

 Source: Grantham Journal

 GRANTHAM Town’s season opener ended in defeat after the Gingerbreads shocked FC United of Manchester by taking an early lead.

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Premier Division
Grantham Town 2
FC United of Manchester 4

A generally evenly-balanced first half saw early chances from FC United’s Carlos Rocca and Grantham’s Paul Grimes. Town keeper Jimmy Lindley punched Rocca’s fourth minute effort clear and Grimes’s curler went just past the far post four minutes later.

FC United posed little threat in the opening exchanges although they were able to keep Grantham penned into their own half at times.

The Gingerbreads shocked United and their 700-plus travelling support in the 13th minute. Grimes’s storming run down the left flank and into the 18-yard box ended with him slotting past keeper James Spencer.

Two minutes later, Town skipper Ben Saunders headed on target but it was too easy for Spencer. FC United were awarded a free kick in the 17th minute that was headed clear by the Grantham defence.

Ben Saunders set up Grimes for another shot on goal but his effort was deflected wide. Grimes turned provider to his skipper a minute later but Saunders’ strike was on the turn was charged down.

Grantham’s defending became slightly last-ditch as the half wore on but United were unable to take advantage.

Grimes was brought down on the edge of the United penalty box in the 28th minute. Martin Ball drove the free kick low through the wall but Spencer gathered at his feet.

Lindley faced a United free kick in the 34th minute. Grant Brindley made a bad late tackled on Lee Neville but Rocca curled wide from the 25-yard set-piece.

Four minutes later, United were level. Another Rocca free kick was headed in by Adam Jones, through the Grantham defence and Lindley.

The dying minutes of the half saw Ben Saunders head wide and Grimes fired off target after he hesitated a second too long and was closed down by United defenders.

Lindley was equal to Mike Norton’s close-range volley and Phil Watt did well to block Norton’s overhead kick just before the half time whistle.

Grantham had a chance to go back in front at the start of the second half, but Grimes scuffed a sitter.

It all started to go wrong for Grantham in the 48th minute. A quickly taken United free kick found Norton the ball behind the Town wall, appearing from the main stand to be well off-side. The flag stayed down, Lindley tripped Norton and referee Mr Finch pointed to the spot and showed the Grantham stopper a straight red.

Brindley took Lindley’s shirt and gloves and promptly saved Dean Stott’s penalty, only for Jerome Wright to fire in from the rebound.

Hardly recovered from the shock of it all, the Gingerbreads conceded again three minutes later. Naive defending allowed Rocca too much space to run in on a loose ball and he shot past Brindley with ease.

United’s celebrations were dampened a minute later when Grantham brought the scoreline to 3-2, with Sam Purcicoe firing in to reignite the Gingerbreads supporters.

Matthew Wolfenden skied a shot over the Grantham goal in the 56th minute as United continued to show more pace and cohesion as the game went on.

It was all hands on deck at times for Town as United surged forward and Brindley did well to tip substitute Stephen Johnson’s 64th minute corner kick from danger.

A minute later, Grantham were awarded a free kick from 20 yards out after Grimes was fouled. Grimes’s free kick was on target but Spencer was equal to it, with Town substitute Jamie McGhee on the United keeper’s toes.

Town threatened again in the 67th minute. Ball’s free kick found Sam Saunders whose flick-on header was just too high for Grimes to connect with.

United hammered the final nail in the coffin a minute later when danger man Norton threaded his way through the Town defence and tucked the ball past Brindley.

But Grantham continued to fight on. Ball’s 70th minute 40-yard free kick found Emeka Nwadike, whose header forced Spencer to tip past his post. Spencer punched Lee Potts’s subsequent corner kick out to McGhee but he fired off target.

As players came and went for both sides in late substitutions, the last real action saw Rhys Lewis’s 78th minute effort blocked after a Potts corner kick.

Grantham Town: Lindley, Purcicoe, Potts, Brindley, S. Saunders, Watt, Lewis, Ball, Grimes (Demidh, 72), B. Saunders (McGhee, 56), Nwadike (Magee, 84). Subs not used: Battersby, Jacklin. Att: 1,220.

Published on Monday 20 August 2012 11:32

Rebels open with a victory

 Source: MEN

 FC United kicked off their Evo-Stik Premier campaign with a 4-2 win at 10-man Grantham Town.

Adam Jones scored the Rebels’ equaliser after they fell behind, but then Grantham had their goalkeeper James Lindlay sent off for bringing down Mike Norton.

Dean Stott’s spot kick was saved but Jerome Wright followed up to put United ahead.

Carlos Roca and Norton then also found the back of the net to secure the three points.

Ashton United were also involved in a high-scoring clash as they beat Worksop Town 5-3 with goals from Ben Deegan (2), Craig Robinson, an Aaron Burns penalty and a late strike from substitute Matty Barlow.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

VIDEO: Grantham Town match marred by fighting between rival fans

 Source: Grantham Journal (see that link for video)

 PUNCHES were thrown by both sets of fans during Grantham Town’s 4-2 loss to FC United of Manchester as fan violence briefly marred an excellent fixture.

The atmosphere prior to the game was electric and good-humoured, with the away side bringing an estimated 700 fans to The Gingerbreads’ 500.

The terracing at the Meres - usually home to a small pocket of hardcore Gingerbread fans - was split in half to allow both sets of fans access but the FC United contingent far outnumbered around 150 Town supporters.

Both sets of fans were chanting towards each other with FC United of Manchester fans singing “We are United” and Town supporters retorting with “You’re not United” but there was no sign of the atmosphere boiling over until Town took a surprise early lead through Paul Grimes.

Both sets of supporters were divided only by a handful of volunteer stewards and a thin line of red and white tape - neither of which could prevent the two sets of fans coming together.

Punches were thrown by a handful of supporters from either side with those from FC United coming into the less heavily populated Grantham Town section.

What sparked the violence is not clear although at least one Grantham Town fan ran to the front of the terracing to goad the FC United fans after Grimes’ opener.

The Journal spotted at least two Grantham Town fans suffering from cuts to the face after the melee, which was over in a matter of seconds, while another couple had swollen features.

Police quickly arrived on the scene and at least two Grantham Town supporters were ejected from the ground.

The remainder of the game passed without any further clashes thanks in no small part to the efforts of the stewards and the presence of police.

Grantham Town chairman Steve Boam:

“I think my stewards handled it very well.

“We have learned a few things from this fixture - putting a bigger segragation between supporters and what have you.

“I think the police handled it very well.

“We well know who these people are and they will be banned from this football ground.”

Grantham Town joint manager Jimmy Albans:

“I think foot ball at any level, when you have had a few beers and it’s the first game of the season and everyone is buzzing and the lads have been on the way down from Manchester, and our the end of the day let the authorities and people like that deal with it.

“I’m not really interested in it to be honest.”

Grantham Town joint manager Wayne Hallcro said:

“I saw that there was a bit of a scuffle at the back - not too much I don’t think.

“I think the stewards did a good job. I think it was a mixture of excitement, reflief and booze.

“The ugly side of the game so I don’t want to talk too much about that to be honest because I think it marrs what’s been a really good day for both teams, for the club and especially me and Jimmy.”

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Grantham Town 2 v 4 FC United - REACTION

 Source: Grantham Journal

 GRANTHAM went a goal up in front of more than 1,200 fans at the Meres today but were ultimately beaten after going down to ten men.

Newly promoted Grantham Town pushed FC United - one of the best supported non-league sides in the country - throughout a hard-fought game which saw Paul Grimes put Grantham one-nil up.

The celebrations were marred by ugly clashes between a small group of both fans from both sides (more to follow).

FC United levelled before the break and went ahead when Town goalkeeper James Lindley gave away a penalty and was sent off for a goalmouth trip.

Centre-back Grant Brindley went in goal and incredibly saved the penalty - only for United to take a 2-1 lead from the rebound.

FC United were soon 3-1 up but The Gingerbreads battled back with Sam Purcicoe quickly pulling one back for 3-2.

But any chance of a miracle comeback ended when FC United striker Mike Norton grabbed the away side’s fourth to make it 4-2.

Grantham Town joint manager Wayne Hallcro:

“It was a dream start really, being 1-0 up. Then we had a couple of half-chances and one really good chance that could have made it 2-0 - then the game’s clearly different.”

Grantham Town joint manager Jimmy Albans:

“I was delighted with the whole 90 minutes.

“I can’t complain about the application, the effort, the attitude. I think we set out to deprive them of the ball and make it very, very hard for them.

“We sat behind the ball and tried to frustrate them and I think it worked very, very well for us.”

Grantham Town chairman Steve Boam:

“I think we conducted ourselves well.

“We were a little naive at times. I think the sending off had a massive impact on the game. At that point I thought we were more than capable of getting a point out of the game.

“I didn’t see a lot there that would worry us and they are red-hot favourites to win this league.

“If that’s the hardest test we are going to have I think we are in for a good season again.”

(On the crowd of more than 1,260)

“It was absolutely brilliant news. It was what we expected - we expected 700 from Manchester and it was great to have near-on 500 from Grantham.”

Derby-Auftakt in Tschechiens 2. Liga: Bohemians Prag 1905 trifft auf Bohemians Prag


 Nein, die Überschrift beinhaltet keinen Tippfehler! Es ist Fakt: Am 05. August 2012 werden im Stadion Dolicek der FC Bohemians Praha 1905 und der FC (FK) Bohemians Praha aufeinandertreffen. Richtig! Man darf verwirrt sein. Zumal sogar die Vereinslogos ziemlich ähnlich aussehen. Ein grünes Känguru auf weißem Grund. Umrandet mit einem grünen Kreis. Verrücktes in der tschechischen Hauptstadt. Beim Anblick der Spielansetzung fallen einem sogleich die deutschen Gegenstücke ein. Die BSG Chemie Leipzig und die SG Leipzig-Leutzsch. Zwei sächsische Sechstligisten, die ein gemeinsames Vereinserbe verwalten. Allerdings ist dies für Außenstehende auf Grund der unterschiedlichen Namen und Embleme nicht auf Anhieb ersichtlich.

Anders in Prag. Fast identische Namen. Sehr ähnliche Vereinsembleme. Alles noch identischer und ähnlicher als bei den Stadtrivalen Manchester United Football Club und dem von Fans ins Leben gerufenen FC United of Manchester. Vor allem: In Manchester trennen beide Klubs einige Ligen, in Prag spielen beide Klubs in einer Liga.

BohemiansWie es dazu kam? In der Tat nicht mit drei Worten erklärbar. Im Jahre 1905 wurde der AFK Vrsovice ins Leben gerufen. Nach einer langen Australientournee (das Känguru im Emblem lässt grüßen) wurde der Verein 1927 kurzerhand in AFK Bohemians umbenannt. In der Folgezeit kam es noch zu einigen Namenswechseln. So hieß der Klub zwischenzeitlich Sokol Zeleznicari Praha, Spartak Praha Stalingrad, TJ CKD Praha und CU (Commercial Union) Bohemians Praha. 2002 wurde schließlich der Namen FC Bohemians Praha (bereits von 1993 bis 1999 Bestand) gewählt.

1983 gelang Bohemians der große Coup, in dem der Verein tschechoslowakischer Meister wurde. Sportlich bergab ging es jedoch Ende der 80er Jahre. Ein steter Kampf gegen den Abstieg, der 1992/93 schließlich nicht mehr verhindert werden konnte. Auch in der neuen tschechischen Liga ging es nicht mehr recht voran. Bis 2004/05 ging es auf und ab, am Ende dieser turbulenten Zeit kam die Insolvenz. Das komplette Aus war kaum zu verhindern. Während dieser Zeit am Rande des Abgrundes verlieh der Gesamtverein TJ Bohemians Praha die Bezeichnung „Bohemians“ und das Logo mit dem Känguru an den tschechischen Drittligisten FC Strizkov Praha 9. Dieser ließ sich sogleich den Namen und das Logo bei den entsprechenden Behörden eintragen.

Der in Insolvenz gegangene FC Bohemians nahm dreieinhalb Jahre lang nicht am Spielbetrieb teil. Pünktlich zur Saison 2009/10 wurde der Klub in der untersten Spielklasse in Prag angemeldet. Der Ball rollte wieder beim „echten“ FC Bohemians – allerdings fortan nur in den Niederungen des tschechischen Ligabetriebs. Gespielt wird im kleinen, aber durchaus charmanten Stadion SK Prosek Praha.

Die offizielle Webseite ( ist nicht ganz up to date. Zu lesen sind allerdings Meldungen zum Konkursverfahren. Etwas von einem Urteil und einer Beschlagnahmung ist zu lesen. Zudem einzelne Textfetzen zum am Rande des Konkurses stehenden Bohemians 1905. Gerichtsurteile. Aussagen zu illegal erworbenen Rechten. Die Seite lässt sich runterscrollen bis zum Stand von 2010. Rot markierte Textpassagen. Gerichtsurteile. Schmutzige Wäsche. Wer dort noch durchsieht, der hat anscheinend wirklich verstanden, wie es um die Nachfolger von Bohemians steht.

PragKommen wir zum FK Bohemians Praha, der in Kürze das Derby beim FC Bohemians 1905 bestreiten wird. In der Spielansetzung ist auch von einem „FC“ die Rede, und auch die Domain der offiziellen Seite lautet Dieser Klub war bis 2005 der Drittligist FC Strizkov Praha 9. Nach dem Erwerb der Namens- und Logorechte hatte sich der Klub prompt umbenannt und sieht sich nun als echter Platzhirsch in der Bohemians-Angelegenheit. Ein Derby gegen Bohemians 1905? Abwarten. Der FK Bohemians Praha erkennt die Bohemians 1905 nicht an und setzt auf die Gerichte, denn auch der tschechische Verband ließ mitteilen, dass er in Zukunft nur einen Verein namens Bohemians akzeptieren wird. Welcher Verein das Recht hat, das Erbe zu tragen, müssen die Gerichte entscheiden. Auf der Webseite des FK Bohemians Praha sind vorsorglich nur 15 Mannschaften in der Tabelle eingetragen. Die Bohemians 1905 fehlen.

Das erste Pflichtspiel als FK Bohemians (zuvor FC Strizkov) wurde am 28. August 2005 in der dritten tschechischen Liga bestritten. Auswärts wurde in Varnsdorf angetreten, das Ergebnis war ein 0:0. Und siehe da. Am 1. Oktober 2005 gab es das erste Duell gegen Bohemians 1905, das 1:1 ausging. Beim Rückspiel im Mai 2006 fielen keine Tore, ein 0:0 war demzufolge das Endergebnis. 2007/08 spielte der FK Bohemians in der zweiten Liga, im Jahr darauf wurde sogar in der Czech Liga erstklassig gespielt. In der darauf folgenden Erstligasaison kam es dann zum großen Eklat. Inzwischen ebenfalls den Sprung ins tschechische Oberhaus geschafft hatte der verfeindete FC Bohemians 1905. Das Hinspiel ging am 4. Oktober 2010 noch im Stadion Evzena Rosického in Praha 6 vor 4.414 Zuschauern über die Bühne. Man trennte sich 0:0 und weiter ging es im Ligabetrieb. Das Rückspiel bei Bohemians konnte indes nicht mehr sportlich auf dem Rasen ausgetragen werden. Angereist und warmgemacht hatte sich das Team des FK Bohemians, doch angetreten wurde nicht. Der Grund: Die Erstligazugehörigkeit des Kontrahenten wurde für unrechtmäßig gehalten. Die Partie wurde am grünen Tisch entschieden. 3:0 für Bohemians 1905 wurde das Spiel gewertet. Und nicht nur das! 20 Punkte Abzug und sechs Millionen Kronen Strafe für den FK Bohemians. Der Weg in die dritte Liga war auf Grund der drakonischen Strafe die logische Konsequenz.

BohemiansPrima Laune beim Bohemians 1905? Nicht ganz, denn diese mussten am Ende der Spielzeit 2009/10 raus aus ihrem Stadion Dolícek im Stadtteil Vrsovice. Gespielt werden musste in der folgenden Saison in der ungeliebten Synot Tip Arena (Heimstätte von Slavia Praha), auch Stadion Eden genannt. Der Grund für den Umzug. Das kleine Heimstadion hatte keine Rasenheizung.

Sportlich neu anfangen musste indes der FK Bohemians (Strizkov). Am 07. August 2010 wurde sogleich losgelegt wie die Feuerwehr. Mit 4:0 wurde bei Loko Vltavín gewonnen. Völlig problemlos wurde die Saison über die Runden gebracht, am Ende durfte der Aufstieg in die zweite Liga gefeiert werden. Die Saison 2011/12 wurde recht ordentlich über die Bühne gebracht, Rang fünf war das Ergebnis recht solider Arbeit. Allerdings ist der Klub nicht gerade mit einem großen Anhang gesegnet. Zuletzt kamen gegen Zlin gerade einmal 312 Fans ins Stadion Prosek, gegen Jihlava waren es 482. Selbst beim Saisonauftakt gegen den MFK Karviná waren es nur 690 treue Zuschauer.

Anders der FC Bohemians 1905. Dieser moralisch betrachtet echte Nachfolgeverein der geschichtsträchtigen Bohemians weiß zahlreiche Fans hinter sich. Zuletzt ließ ein Testspiel die Herzen der grün-weißen Fans höher schlagen. Gegen den FC Parma wurde wieder im geliebten Stadion Dolícek aufgelaufen. Der Fanblock war prall gefüllt, das Team aus Italien wurde mit 2:1 geschlagen.

Synt Top ArenaZurück ins Jahr 2005. Im Zuge der Insolvenz, als sich der FC Strizkov Praha 9 den Namen und das Logo gesichert hatte, wurde parallel die Faninitiative Druzstvo Fanousku Bohemians (abgekürzt DFB, deutsch Vereinigung der Bohemians-Fans) ins Leben gerufen. Dank einer großen Sammelaktion unter den Fans im In- und Ausland und des Einstiegs eines Investors konnte es 2005/06 als AFK Vrsovice bzw. als Bohemians 1905 in der dritten Liga weitergehen. Bereits in der Folgesaison wurde wieder zweitklassig gespielt, der Aufstieg in die erste Liga gelang am Ende der Spielzeit 2006/07. Allerdings rutschte Bohemians 1905 nach nur einem Jahr wieder in die Zweitklassigkeit ab. Kein großes Problem, denn bereits 2009/10 rollte bei Bohemians 1905 wieder im Oberhaus der Ball. Drei Spielzeiten in Folge konnte sich der FC Bohemians 1905 in der ersten Liga halten, am Ende der zurückliegenden Saison bedeutete Rang 15 der Abstieg. Meister wurde indes Slovan Liberec vor dem AC Sparta Praha und dem FC Viktoria Plzen. Auf Grund der miserablen Leistung kamen meist zwischen 2.000 und 3.000 Zuschauer in die Synot Tip Arena. Rund 4.400 waren es beim Derby gegen Sparta Praha, das sang- und klanglos mit 0:4 verloren wurde. In der Vorsaison zog dieses Duell immerhin noch knapp 8.000 Zuschauer an.

Neue Liga. Neues Glück. Zurück im alten Stadion! Es ist angerichtet im Dolicek für das Duell gegen den FK Bohemians! Großes Theater bereits vor dem Start des Spielbetriebs. Der Verband sah Bohemians 1905 als traditionellen Nachfolger und legte dem FK Bohemians nahe, sich in FC Strizkov Praha 9 zurückzubenennen. Dieser weigerte sich, schließlich erwarb dieser im Jahre 2005 die Rechte an Namen und Logo. Eine verzwickte Situation. Es folgte der Gang vor ein Zivilgericht. Dieses bewirkte die Wiedereingliederung des FK Bohemians in den laufenden Spielbetrieb. Man darf sehr gespannt sein, wie diese Geschichte weitergehen wird! Keine Frage, wir bleiben an diesem spannenden Thema dran!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Follow the crowd as bumper attendance expected at Grantham Town’s season opener against FC United of Manchester

 Source: Grantham Journal

 A BUMPER crowd is expected at The Meres tomorrow when Grantham Town host non-league leviathons FC United of Manchester.

Joint manager Wayne Hallcro described the fixture as “perfect” for the Gingerbreads’ return to the Northern Premier League Premier Division, following their championship-winning season in Division One South.

FC United are renowned for their large home support and sizeable travelling contingent. Internet forums this week suggested that the Manchester side will be bringing anything from 300 to 700-plus supporters, which could easily make an attendance of more than 1,000 for the season opener.

Hallcro said: “Saturday is the perfect game for opening day. With a big crowd and the lottery of [it being the] first game, we could cause a surprise or two. We would certainly prefer to be playing FC United now than in 10 games time.

“We haven’t watched them and don’t know too much about them. But would we change what we do at home? No way. We do need a plan B in case it isn’t working. We will have more information about them before the game.”

Despite two fantastic previous seasons, Grantham have suffered slow starts to their campaigns, but Hallcro does not see that as a problem and said last year’s opener against Lincoln United was more of a pressure game than tomorrow’s meeting with last season’s Premier Division play-off contenders FC United.

Hallcro said: “In some respects, we have got to go out and play our way and let them worry about us. We are all comfortable with what we do. We need to stay in the game as long as we can to get something out of it.

“We are under no pressure this Saturday and will go out to get a result. It is the first game in a higher league.

“We can’t be complacent because we won the league last time round. It is a big game and a big crowd lifts everyone.”

Hallcro said that the Premier Division was going to be a “massive” learning curve for the whole Grantham Town set-up and different tactics would have to be employed at times if they were to match their opposition, including FC United tomorrow..

He said: “If we defend properly and be patient, chances will come. We must make the right decisions when we have got the ball and need to clear our lines to the right place.

“Their front two are very experienced and we need to keep tight to them.”

Grantham chairman Steve Boam said he had spoken to FC United of Manchester on Wednesday night and they confirmed that they were expecting to bring around 700 supporters.

Mr Boam would have preferred the FC United game to have come a little later in the season but said that the potentially largest attendance of the season for the first game scenario was far more preferable than the Manchester side visiting The Meres on a cold, frosty winter’s night, watched by “one man and his dog”.

Mr Boam said: “We are expecting close on to 2,000 tomorrow, but I am forever the optimist.

“Looking at 700 travelling, I hope interest around town will at least match that. We have had record season ticket sales, which is a good indicator.

“I want people around town to get behind us 100 per cent and enjoy the level of football the club is at now.”

To be part of that big crowd atmosphere and witness what could the start of another momentous season for the Gingerbreads, get along to The Meres tomorrow for the 3pm kick-off.

Chorley are looking up after play-off pain

 Source: Chorley Citizen

 CHORLEY start their season at Stocksbridge Park Steels tonight aiming for promotion once more after narrowly missing out in the play-offs last term.

The Magpies were unable to secure their ascent to Blue Square North after losing in the Evo-Stik Premier Division play-off semi finals to FC United, but chairman Ken Wright is hopeful that they can challenge again this time around.

Manager Garry Flitcroft, who did guide Chorley to promotion from First Division North a year ago, has added goalkeeper Andy Robertson as well as defenders Kieran Walmsley and Simon Garner to his squad.

Chorley’s opening game has been brought forward to tonight because of a clash with cricket fixtures at Stocksbridge.

“We had a decent season last season and we’d like to go one better,” Wright said.

“Of course we were disappointed to lose in the play-offs, and Bradford Park Avenue went up who a week earlier we’d beaten.

“But we know the rules before the start of the season. I would like to see two automatic places and one through the play-offs right through the pyramid system, but that’s just my personal belief.

“The ideal way of course would be to finish top, but no-one has a divine right. No-one is taking anything for granted.

“Hednesford did well last season, FC United are still there, Blyth Spartans have come down, Ilkeston have come up have backing and AFC Fylde have backing too.

“But we have tried to strengthen again this summer.”

Friday, August 10, 2012

Police criticise football club for ‘irresponsible’ bar sales

 Source:  Yorkshire Post - No online content

 A FOOTBALL club could lose its licence to sell alcohol following police claims that club officials failed to take action to prevent disorder.

Police chiefs are asking councillors to revoke the premises licence for Bradford Park Avenue’s social club at the Horsfall Stadium.

Their concerns centre on the sale of alcohol to supporters at a play-off final between Bradford and FC United of Manchester on May 6.

A police statement has claimed that the club did not take a responsible approach to the sale of alcohol when the atmosphere turned nasty.

The statement, contained in a report to council licensing chiefs who meet on August 16, said the “sudden change in mood of the supporters” was fuelled by alcohol.

“The bar was still open for the sale of alcohol and there appeared to be no concerns or any responsibility being taken from the bar staff, Bradford Park Avenue committee or designated premises supervisor who at that time was not present within the bar.”

Officers asked for the bar to be closed until after the game but this was “flatly refused”, according to police.

The police claim that director Kevin Holdsworth was spoken to “but would not or could not comprehend the potential seriousness of the situation and that he has basically refused an instruction not only from the police but the ground safety officer.”

It concludes: “The premises and those that involved in the running of Bradford Park Avenue are failing to see that it is their responsibility to run their premises professionally.”

The club declined to comment.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Moston residents mount challenge to stop FC United's new stadium

 Source: MEN

 Residents opposed to FC United's planned new stadium have launched a challenge to the club's planning permission.

The non-league club, formed in protest at the Glazer family's ownership of Manchester United, want to build a 5,000 capacity stadium on the Ronald Johnson playing fields in Moston.

They have been granted planning permission by Manchester council and had hoped to start work later this summer.

However, the Residents United Residents Association, set up in protest at the proposals, are trying to force a judicial review.

They believe that the town hall failed to follow protocol when they gave the club the green light.

Papers were lodged last Thursday, the M.E.N. understands.

Manchester council has 14 days to respond to the challenge, which FC United bosses say they expected.

It will then be down to RURA to decide whether they want to take their appeal to London.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Another smooth pre-season performance from City

 Source: Exeter City

 So on an untypically warm summer's afternoon at the Park, City continue their fine pre-season form with a comfortable 3-1 stroll against fellow supporter-owned club FC United of Manchester in front of 1464 supporters, including a particularly well voiced section from the visitors. City lined up: Krysiak; Woodman, Baldwin, Coles, Tully; Gosling, Oakley, Doherty, Chamberlain; Bauza, Nichols.

Despite City being content to let their opponents enjoy the majority of the early possession, it was City who came closest to opening the scoring with the first attack of the game after five minutes. Bauza's drilled square ball found first year pro Jake Gosling wide on the left who scampered forward unafraid to take on his defender. After working space on the outside, Gosling drilled a low ball across the keeper to the far corner where unfortunately it bounced back off the inside of the post behind the keeper before being cleared.

Ten minutes later though City did score, although it was in somewhat fortuitous circumstances. A stumbling defender in front of the players' tunnel was mugged by the quick thinking Elliott Chamberlain who raced towards goal. With Gosling steaming in unshepherded at the far post, triallist Chamberlain fired a low ball that deflected off a defender and through the keeper on the way to the back of the net to make it 1-0 to City.

Two minutes later City doubled their lead in fine fashion from a very quickly taken free kick from Matt Oakley 25 yards out. He flicked the ball forward to Bauza in a ridiculous amount of space on the edge of the box who in turn forwarded the ball to Nichols for a first time shot that was well blocked. Unfortunately for the visitors it fell straight to Bauza who had plenty of time and space to poke the ball home inside the near post from 10 yards out to make it 2-0.

Nichols almost made it three a further two minutes later after some nifty work inside the box chasing a wonderfully weighted Gosling through ball, but with the goal at his mercy had a rush of blood to the head and blasted over. City did get the ball in the net on the half hour after an electric one touch move from Bauza, Gosling and Nichols, but the linesman's flag ruled out Nichols' classy low finish for offside. Somewhat harshly ruled out, too.

Five minutes later Jacob Cane was introduced at Doherty's expense, then ten minutes after that Gosling's effort from range was easily collected by the FCUM keeper. With seconds of the half remaining Cane sent Gosling away down the left where his chip to the far top corner from 15 yards out was acrobatically tipped over for a corner.

At the start of the second half manager Tisdale sent out a whole new team, so for this half City lined up: Evans; Frear, Moore-Taylor, Amankwaah, Dawson; Davies, Bennett, Keohane, Sercombe; O'Flynn, Gow. It didn't take long for the new line-up to find the net with barely sixty seconds on the clock when O'Flynn expertly collected a long ball over the top before teeing up Gow arriving late. Showing the sort of twinkle-toed movement Fred Astaire would be proud of, Gow danced his way into the box before wrong footing the keeper and nonchalantly chipping the ball over him into the net from close range.

FC finally had something to cheer about five minutes later with a well finished goal. The ball was worked down the left and crossed - via an attacker and two City defenders all of whom failed to control the ball properly - to Matt Wolfenden who showed everyone how it was done by bringing the ball down and lashing it past Evans in the City goal to make it 3-1.

O'Flynn had a chance of an immediate reply latching onto another long ball over the top, but after comfortably beating a poorly worked offside trap contrived to guide the ball onto the base of the post from a one on one with the keeper fifteen yards out.

Midway through the half Keohane's smart ball out to the right found Sercombe who again beat a poorly worked offside trap to race through for another one on one with the keeper, but this time the keeper rushed out to smother Sercombe's shot at his feet. Jordan Tillson replaced Dawson with fifteen minutes to go as City saw out the remainder of the game to run out easy winners.

So well done to all for a decent performance against a hard working side. It's been a good pre-season so far with 7-3 and 4-0 away wins, and that was continued with City's 12th, 13th and 14th goals of the season! But it's not all about the goals, although mention must go to Gosling for his first half performance and Gow for his second half efforts, the defence looked pretty assured with Baldwin and new club captain Coles at the helm, and the tenacious Doherty in midfield. Without getting too carried away, at this rate we might be in danger of having a half decent season if we're not careful!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Commercial cachet to underpin new FC United stadium

Source: Insider Media

The team behind a new football stadium for FC United of Manchester is hoping the commercial cachet of hosting events there will underpin its use as a community facility.

Spokesman Andy Walker told Insider the club would be a focal point for community use while also functioning as commercial hub for meetings, functions and events.

His comments came as the club signed specific agreements with Manchester City Council relating to its future use by the local community meaning construction work can start this autumn.

Walker said: "The new stadium will have function rooms, offices and a medical room. These will be available for community use and we would look to hire these out for commercial use but there won't be any corporate boxes.

"We hope they will become a hub for community events but that also there is a cachet in hosting events and meetings at a football ground."

Planning permission for the new 5,000-seater stadium in Moston had previously been granted subject to finalising these new deals, known as Section 106 Agreements, before construction work can start.

FC United of Manchester is a supporter-owned club formed by Manchester United fans following the takeover of the latter by the Glazer family in 2005.

The stadium project is expected to cost in the region of £4.6m with just under half to come from donations and shares costing £200 each.

All shareholders in the club will receive one vote in decisions and elections regardless of how much money they have invested.

Further funding is expected to come via grants from bodies such as Sport England and the Football Foundation and the club are hoping to start the 2013/14 season in their new home.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Los Fénix de allá...

 Source: Ole (Argentina). Google translation.

 La historia no tiene que ver con el viejo club palermitano que ascendió a la C y que juega en Pilar... Se habla de los “Phoenix Clubs”, como se llama en Gran Bretaña a aquellas instituciones que como el Ave, o como el Rangers, en este caso, se proponen renacer de las cenizas...

Contando Inglaterra, Gales, Escocia, Irlanda del Norte y la República de Irlanda el del gigante de Glasgow es el 34° caso y, quizás, el más resonante. Pero hay otros que merecen ser contados. Uno es el del Wimbledon FC. Declarado en quiebra en 2002, el club fue reubicado por sus nuevos dueños en Milton Keynes, lejos de su lugar original y tras renombrarse como MK Dons (utilizaba la última sílaba del nombre original) nunca tuvo el apoyo de los hinchas del club, que meses más tarde fundaron el AFC Wimbledon. Por entonces, el club de la gente arrancó en la amateurísima Novena División del fútbol inglés, pero tras meter cinco ascensos en nueve temporadas, hoy juega en la League Two (4ª categoría), sólo un nivel abajo de los impopulares MK Dons...

Crease o no, con el Manchester United pasó algo parecido. Aunque está lejos de desaparecer, en 2005, cuando el yanqui Malcolm Glazer compró la mayoría de las acciones, muchos hinchas de los Diablos Rojos abandonaron el club y fundaron el FC United of Manchester. Actualmente está en la 7ª categoría y acarició su gran sueño hace dos años: en la FA Cup, llegaron a forzar un replay ante el Brighton que, de ganar, los podría haber puesto ante el United, nada menos. Pero fue 0-4. Y a seguir esperando...

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Councils and National Archives preserve local digital histories

 Source: Public Service

 Local information held across millions of web pages has been 'captured forever', after being permanently stored on the UK Government Web Archive.

The move was part of a wider pilot programme designed to help local authorities preserve the digital history of their communities.

The National Archives said it had been working with councils to share the expertise it had developed in archiving central government websites and to help authorities consider ways to archive important local online information for future generations.

Staff from participating local record offices were trained in how to develop a curated web archive. And the National Archives and the Internet Memory Foundation are now working to create guidance and service model options for local authorities.

Oliver Morley, chief executive and keeper of The National Archives, said: "This project has enabled us to share our innovation and expertise beyond central government and to make a real difference by working alongside local authorities across the country to capture and preserve the digital history of their communities."

Through the pilot more than 3 million new online documents have been permanently preserved, including the websites of Nick Clegg, FC United of Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent Pottery and Ceramics, and much more.

El front popular del gol

 Source: Culturas (Spain) - not online.

 ‘Contra el futbol modern, espectacular, mediàtic i capitalista’ i a favor de l’entusiasme, la fidelitat no negociada i els valors socials

Hi ha motius per a l’optimisme ran de l’abisme: cada vegada hi ha menys gent disposada a deixar-se estafar per l’empresariat, la violència retòrica dels brunetistes mediàtics, el neofeudalisme i els mercats. Guillem Martínez ho anomenaria un “canvi de paradigma”. Si aquest canvi s’està produint en àmbits laborals i culturals, per què no en l’àmbit esportiu? La tendència natural és cap a allò petit i pur imanejable: menys concerts en places de toros, menys multinacionals, menys macrofestivals, menys megaestors; més disqueries petites, ultramarins de barri, concerts en bars, editorials independents.

El futbol modern no és una excepció, i s’estén l’embafament cap a l’esport-mercaderia. “Jo he vingut aquí a vendre un producte anomenat futbol”, com va dir Joâo Havelange, president de la FIFA.

Doncs quina decepció, Joâo; de producte precisament ens en sobra. El que falta és esperit, codis d’honor, fraternitat i passió autèntica. I aquí és on entra en escena la UC Ceares. 2. Sembla tret d’una pel·lícula de Ken Loach: un club de Gijón de tercera divisió amb més de seixanta anys d’història està a punt de fer fallida. Uns quants fans s’uneixen i creen un cooperativa per rescatarlo. El rescat es du a terme partint dels ideals del futbol associatiu de tota la vida: accionariat popular (un soci, un vot) i la fi de la directiva d’empresaris.

La inspiració arriba per via del FC United of Manchester: 5.000 aficionats del club es van revoltar asme, la fidelitat no negociada i els valors socials. Afavor de la comunitat, en resum, no de la junta. Reclama el futbol de barri, el partit de carrer amb motxilles en lloc de pals i l’alegria per la victòria a 5a regional.

En un recent número de Diagonal, Iñigo Arza, un dels impulsors de l’assumpte, declarava: “Parlo del futbol humil, d’aquest que mai no desapareixerà perquè el mou la l’any 2005 contra la compra del seu equip per uns magnats americans, i es van escindir en un nou club organitzat com a Public Company. Un vot per accionista, sense afany de lucre ni mitjancers... Avui dia elFC United suma 4.000 accionistes, ha pujat quatre categories i està a punt de construir el seu propi estadi.

Seguint el seu exemple, la nova directiva (obrera) del Ceares es posiciona fermament “contra el futbol modern, mediàtic, espectacular i capitalista” i a favor de l’entusipassió i no els diners. En el futbol professional d’elit, el que reflecteix les estructures capitalistes, no hi pot haver res de tot això. La visió social s’esfuma perquè desapareix l’atmosfera futbolística, la cultura de grada, la música futbolística és substituïda pel waka-waka de torn, els fanzines per revistes publicitàries, i al lloc del teu veí hi ha un turista que sí que pot pagar els 60 euros de l’entrada”. El Ceares no està sol: altres clubs com el Ciutat de Múrcia funcionen partint de la mateixa idea.

N’hi ha més? Sí. Poc temps després de renéixer, els socis del Ceares van plantificar una colossal pintada al mur exterior de l’estadi: AGAINST MODERN FOOTBALL. Perquè a més, a la UC Ceares són anglòfils: als descansos sona reggae, punk rock britànic, ska i Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Les seves bufandes llueixen anagrames de northern soul amb el lema Keep the faith (Mantingues la fe), i una de les seves pancartes declara –en gest de complicitat a Trainspotting– Lust for life (set de vida).

L’afiliació política del Ceares tampoc no deixa lloc per a la confusió: seguint la línia d’equips com el St. Pauli, el Werder Bremen o el South Winners de Marsella, els habitants de Gijón es declaren antifeixistes i antiracistes. A la grada no hi ha lloc per a l’insult homòfob ni la violència: només bon rotllo, càntics incessants, mareig de bufandes i cervesa en llauna.

I ara es troben embrancats en la preparació d’un llibre recopilatori de relats futbolístics, per al qual el mateix Irvine Welsh ha escrit un panegíric.

Sisplau, no em digueu que va ser un somni.

Monday, June 18, 2012

FC United sign up MMU architecture students - to design dugouts at new stadium

 Source: MEN

 Architecture students will cut their teeth by designing snazzy dugouts for Manchester’s latest football stadium.

Trainee designers at Manchester Metropolitan University are being challenged to think outside the box when it comes to the traditional pitch-side shelters.

They will design eye-catching new dugouts for the £5m FC United stadium.

The community club, formed in protests at the Glazer family’s takeover of Manchester United, are building a 5,000-seat stadium on playing fields in Moston.

And a group of 180 second-year architecture students have been asked to come up with original ideas.

It follows a hands-on exercise last year, when MMU students were let loose at stately home Dunham Massey, creating a series of stunning extravagant garden ornaments. Lecturer Laura Sanderson said the new challenge would test students’ creativity.

She said: “We are working with the club to create two new dug outs. The brief to students will be that they need to break the mould and come up with an original idea.

“Although, we’re still at an early stage, we’d be looking to involve the community in getting their ideas about what they could look like.

“The project at Dunham Massey was really successful.

“Our students ended up creating six follies which were really eye-catching. It’s great experience for our students to see their ideas actually get fabricated.”

The Northern Premier League club, who currently use Bury FC’s Gigg Lane,  hope to be in their new ground for the 2013/14 season.

But the move sparked a bitter row, with many people in Moston opposed to the location on the Ronald Johnson Playing Fields.

Council bosses gave permission for the building last October, despite more than 2,200 objections.

Friday, June 15, 2012

That's the ticket as Bradford Park Avenue bid to maximise their income

 Source: Bradford Telegraph and Argus

 The backroom team at Horsfall Stadium are working hard to maximise their income so that they can compete in the Blue Square Bet North Division after winning promotion.

Finance director Kevin Hainsworth and chairman John Dean are looking into new avenues of sponsorship and are also trying to extend their ties with their long- term partners.

The club’s chief executive officer Bob Blackburn is helping out in his own area of expertise and overseeing extensive work on the ground.

Blackburn said: “It will be a Wembley-type surface for the players this coming season because there is a lot of work going into it. We have already done a lot on the buildings and seating areas in the stands.

“There has been a lot more interest since we won promotion, and Kevin and John are doing a lot and season tickets are selling well. It is a big step up - we know that, but we feel we owe it to our supporters to give it our best shot.

“The fans were brilliant last season and I’m glad for them that we repaid them for standing in the rain on miserable midweek nights.

"There will also be a constant reminder of our play- off final win to all the season-ticket holders because a picture of Tom Greaves’ goal is on the back!

“I think that’s brilliant and I couldn’t resist having a dig at Jon Worsnop. I rang him up to tell him he was on the back of our new season ticket – picking the ball out of the back of the net.

"He called me something I couldn’t possibly repeat but he took it in good spirit, and that’s him all over. He loves the banter.”

Worsnop began his career with Bradford’s other club, City, but had a spell with Avenue under Lee Sinnott. He is currently with FC United of Manchester and was between the sticks for the Mancunians in the play-off final.

He had a good game but was finally beaten by Greaves’ predatory strike in the last few minutes of extra time.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Football Beyond The Euros, Hornby & Banter

 Source: The Quietus

 It's football-bloody-football all over the telly at the moment. But, argues Joe Kennedy, beyond the flag-waving the sport offers a form of popular modernism.

International football tournaments come around so quickly these days. Maybe it's a consequence of getting older, but the PASSION!-themed TV advertising seems to start as the ears are still ringing with the previous competition's sententious punditry. Sure enough, I'm still recovering from my twenty-ninth birthday - involving a Pennine reservoir's-worth of booze and a 2010 World Cup quarter-final penalty shoot-out soundtracked experimentally with Mahler's Tragische Symphony No. 6 - and the Poland-Ukraine European Championships are getting underway. The media are microwaving their xenophobic patter, and part-time fans across England are consulting their WKD sides to escape those long-scheduled family christenings to watch the group matches down the local. Banter, endless bloody banter, drifts through the window on the breeze to chisel away that vestige of the life-force left intact by the Jubilympics. It must be hellish if you don't like football.

In fact, it's not entirely pleasant if you do, or do in a way that exceeds donning an England shirt and yelling at a pub television every two years. As someone who spends a substantial amount of time watching lower-league football, my haughtiness towards international tournaments is akin to that of a Detroit techno connoisseur offered a guest-listing for a Scooter show. While the standard of play at World Cups and Euros is typically exceptional, and the drama of the competitions undeniable, it's hard not to feel that a misappropriation occurs during them. It isn't that I believe sport is ruined when it becomes a vehicle for collective expression – quite the opposite, in fact – but that football loses its subversive capacities when coloured by nationalistic ideology.

Unfortunately, it's at precisely the moments that football becomes especially visible to its detractors that it most closely matches their perception of it as an arena of loutish behaviour and ungainly sentiment. On many occasions, I've implored a sceptical friend, full of justified ire at hearing stories of (for example) foreign students being attacked after another disappointing tournament elimination for England, to believe me when I tell them that it isn't really like that. And it isn't: dichotomies between 'boorish' football and civilised behaviour are premised on an unfair caricature.

This isn't, I should add, a Nick Hornby-derived theory. In Fever Pitch, the 1992 book widely credited with 'liberating' football from the clutches of hooliganism and delivering it a new audience of sensitive aesthetes, Hornby brought cheese-course conviction to the notion that a life well-lived could accommodate both a comprehensive understanding of John Updike's sexual worldview and trips to Arsenal. Essentially, it was a manual designed to assist Guardian readers to justify the fact that they occasionally tuned into Match of the Day. It was, at best, problematic.

Those who despise the game and the Hornbyites set up two positions. The first portrays football as anything from a pointless waste of time to a pernicious vehicle of false consciousness, a post-religious opium of the people. The second revels in football's supposed primitivism, situating it in opposition to, say, theatre or art cinema. My sense is that both of these arguments lack credibility, and that the sport offers in its own right a way towards social and cultural awareness. Scratch beneath the surface of its mass-media incarnations, the vaguely Rollerball-like Sky Super Sundays and the overstated laddishness of Soccer AM, and it becomes apparent that fan culture is characterised by an organic political intelligence.

The ability of supporters to mobilise themselves in resistance to what they regard as the theft of the game by business disabuses their widely-held reputation for quietism, a myth propagated by both the antis and the Hornbys. In Britain, explicitly oppositional supporter politics has led to the formation of several clubs, most notably AFC Wimbledon and FC United of Manchester. The former came into being in 2002 when a consortium purchased the original Wimbledon FC and moved them to Milton Keynes. Fans rallied and formed AFCW, an organisation with an unprecedently democratic ownership structure: they have risen swiftly through the semi-professional ranks to sit one division below MK Dons, the 'franchise' team. FC United, meanwhile, exist thanks to a section of Manchester United fans resentful at the increasing domination of top-level football by the market forces that have priced working-class Mancunians out of Old Trafford. The new, self-consciously socialist club attract crowds of between two and three thousand to their games in the seventh tier of the English football system, and have inspired similar projects hostile to football's privatisation.

Beyond these cases, there is certainly an argument that club-level supporting is inherently politicised. Generally, the ownership of football clubs resembles a scale model of capitalism as defined by Marx: the supporters constitute the club's identity, and thus create its 'product', but the entities which result are - almost universally - owned by a limited number of people with the financial wherewithal to purchase a stake. The football 'experience' is then sold back to the people who generate it in the first place, and the loyalty of fans allows for a monopolistic control over things like ticket prices. Barring the occasional confluences of interest that occur when proverbial local-boys-made-good take over their boyhood teams, the relationship between supporters and owners is effectively an antagonistic one.

This antagonism is what lends supporting a team its countercultural force. In the 1980s, when the British game was in the process of encountering the first wave of rapacious asset-stripping Thatcherites, protest began to be expressed in the fanzine movement. Many football fanzine editors cut their teeth on DIY punk and post-punk publications and in the schismatised left politics of the late 70s and early 80s. At Darlington, my local club, the Xeroxed 'zine was called Mission Impossible, and was sold outside our ramshackle stadium by bearded guys who fitted the visual archetype of SWP canvassers. It was dominated by extensively-researched investigations into the machinations of a series of disreputable chairmen, and also featured analyses of broader problems for supporters such as implementation of the Criminal Justice Bill at matches.

Like most fanzines, Mission Impossible complemented its political take on the game with discussions of leftfield film, music and stand-up, thus situating supporting within a more general context of popular dissent. The frame of reference for its coverage of music was based on the likes of Half Man Half Biscuit and, more intriguingly for a fourteen year-old from a farming town where Oasis and Shed Seven were considered sonic pathfinders, The Fall. The notion of a group who played aggressive, repetitive music overlaid with lyrics composed in a complex, cryptic spin on northern English was weirdly alluring, and seemed to echo the quickfire absurdism and surrealist wordplay – which would shock anyone who thought football was all gormless banter – I'd heard on the terraces. Ultimately, the experimental music I'd first encountered because of football developed into a love of modernist literature which has, well, ended up with me scraping a living in precarious teaching jobs and cultural journalism. To borrow Simon Reynolds and Mark Fisher's formulation to describe those bands who point towards a whole treasure-trove of obscure cultural expression, the invariably soaking South Terrace at Darlington was my 'portal'.

Beyond this nostalgia, there are firmer links between football and experimental art. The standard rules of the game were codified in 1863, a year significant for aesthetics in that it was when Charles Baudelaire published the essay 'The Painter of Modern Life'. Baudelaire's concern was to demonstrate that industrialised culture required new, more complex forms of representation, and aspects of his argument can be found in everything from Impressionist painting to noise music. The formalisation of football was also a response to the social shift away from traditional modes of living: in the games proffering of moments of extremely fleeting pleasure, it's also possible to glimpse the French poet's conviction that modernity could only offer transcendence in the transient. Few students of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century avant-gardes have investigated the link, but there's a great book waiting to be written on the way in which football can claim to be a form of popular modernism.

So, if you're frustrated by the myopic press coverage of Euro 2012, or you're finding yourself bemused by the fact that football never seems to leave the television, it's perhaps worth considering that the object of your indignation is not necessarily guilty of all it superficially appears to be. Beyond the jingoism generated by the national team and the hubris of the Premier League, football culture expresses itself with a creativity and spontaneity that the world at large seems unfortunately reluctant to acknowledge.

Joe Kennedy

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Six new rivals set to visit Marston Road

 Source: Staffordshire Newsletter

 STAFFORD Rangers will face no fewer than six new opponents next season.

The FA’s release of the 2012/13 league allocations shows the Evo-Stik Northern Premier league with 22 clubs.

They include promoted Ilkeston, Grantham Town (from the NPL division one South), Witton Albion and AFC Fylde (both NPL division one North).

In addition, Rangers will also face the relegated pair of Blyth Spartans and Eastwood Town, both of whom were demoted from the Blue Square North.

Following Northwich Victoria’s ground problems and their subsequent relegation to NPL division one (South), Frickley Athletic have been reprieved.

Other NPL premier sides are, Ashton United, Buxton, Chorley, Hednesford Town, FC United, Kendal, Marine, Matlock, Nantwich, North Ferriby, Rushall Olympic, Stocksbridge PS, Whitby Town and Worksop Town.

Rangers have so far confirmed six preseason friendly dates, starting with Congleton Town (home) on June 28.

That is followed by Stone Dominoes (away, July 7), Tamworth (home, July 14), Kidderminster Harriers (home, July 21), Llandudno (away, Aug 4) and Kidsgrove Athletic (away, Aug 11).

Rangers Chairman Mike Hughes will step down from his post at the end of this month after two years in the job. He will remain as a director.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Quixotic Tales of Misadventure and Submarines… (Part Two)

 Source: El Centrocampista

 In 1999, former Real Murcia player and now businessman (and, interestingly, football agent) Quique Pina decided to form his own club. The remit was to rise through the divisions as rapidly as possible, utilising business contacts, favours and his knowledge of the game and the world of the football agents. Amazingly, the project succeeded. Ciudad de Murcia had reached la Segunda within four years.

By the middle of the “noughties”, the incredible scene of both Murcia clubs duking it out for a promotion spot to La Primera was visible. Real Murcia, the grand old veterans and Ciudad de Murcia, the young upwardly-mobile upstarts. Both would just miss out – which precipitated earth shuddering events.

Real Murcia had long found that their atmospheric, but crumbling stadium, La Condomina, stifled their ability to progress as a club and as a commercial entity. The ground had a limited capacity of 17,000 and was hemmed in on all sides by and assortment of apartments, shops and even a bull-ring. Want refreshments at the match? They were found at the bars across the street. By now, the ground was also shared with Ciudad de Murcia. The club could not continue in such surroundings and they orchestrated a move to a new stadium on the outskirts of town. Very much like Bolton Wanderer’s Reebok Stadium, the ground was in the middle of nowhere in particular and replete with its own retail park.

Unfortunately, Ciudad de Murcia were to make an even bigger move of their own. Struggling financially to keep up with the demands of maintaining a club at such a high level, Quique Pina managed to give Spain its very own Wimbledon/MK Dons story. Ciudad de Murcia was sold – registration, league position and squad – and relocated almost 200 miles away in Granada, under the name of Granada 74. That this project was also ultimately doomed did nothing to lift the gloom in Murcia.

(However, neither did it hamper Quique Pina’s career. He went on to become instrumental in another Granada club’s meteoric rise through the divisions – bizarrely with the help of Udinese, who he had become a Spanish ambassador for. He became president of Granada along with being “sporting advisor” to Cadiz and Tenerife).

The small band of fans that had grown to love Ciudad de Murcia and share in its high-speed run through the league had therefore been left without a club to support. An attempt to resurrect the club was made at the time, but was short-lived and once again doomed because of finances.

One spark of optimism does come from the ashes of the club, however, in the shape of a fan-owned club – bearing the colours of Ciudad de Murcia and part of the name. Club de Accionariado Popular Ciudad de Murcia (CAP Ciudad de Murcia for short!) have been born in the image of AFC Wimbledon and of FC United of Manchester (and have recently made links with that club). It may be some time before they will be able to give Real Murcia a derby match, though, being 5 levels apart – but their fans/owners, unlike many at this level, are in this for the long haul and are truly committed to the cause.

Back in Cartagena, following promotion to La Segunda in 2009, FC Cartagena had a tremendous season, almost gaining promotion to La Primera, only missing out in the last couple of weeks of the 2009-10 season. It has been a very quick drop from those heights, though.

Cartagena’s most famous son is the engineer Isaac Peral. He gave the world the first battery-powered submarine, which is on display in the town, by the Marina. Having spent most of the season flirting with relegation, FC Cartagena were given a lifeline by the amarillos submarinos (yellow submarines) of Villareal.

With Villareal’s first team squad’s relegaton to La Segunda, their B team automatically, despite a mid-table finish, were relegated in turn. The four relegation places at the bottom of the table had magically become three.

However, Cartagena fluffed their lines and were relegated some six points from safety, leaving La Segunda without their Murcian derby and themselves with a mammoth task to try and rebuild and return to the division. They will need to keep the support they have had this season – and in time try to convert some of those locals in their Real Madrid and Barcelona shirts – not an easy thing to begin to do, particularly at the level they will now find themselves.

Real Murcia maintained their spot in the division and will patiently await whoever may arrive to renew local hostilities. With the enthusiastic support and drive that the new kids on the block, CAP Ciudad de Murcia have so far exhibited – it may once again come from their own backyard, rather than the city down the road.

- By Stuart Howard-Cofield.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Would your football club be better run as a co-operative?

Supporter-owned Bayern Munich
are enjoying yet another successful
season. Photograph: Daniel Ochoa
De Olza/AP
 Source: The Guardian

 Co-operatives offer a sustainable model for football clubs - just ask Champions League finalists Bayern Munich

What's the point of a football club? If we look at the motives of its owners, we'd get some strange answers. It could be a millionaire's pension fund, a property development opportunity, a shot at a capital gain, a millstone, a tax dodge, an ego-trip, a nest-egg, a birthday present, a promotional tool, a political tool; the list is far from exhaustive.

No club was ever founded with this in mind, of course. They began life as genuine clubs, open to membership from the community of players, and later supporters, who had an interest in their success.

But over time – mainly for the need to raise capital to build stadia – clubs became companies, and lots of members gave way to a smaller number of shareholders. They coalesced over time and soon clubs were dominated by a small handful of people, most eventually becoming the private property of a single person.

This seems at odds with the true nature of the enterprise, which has an inherently public character. Football's magic is to take all the emotions that define what a club means to one fan and make it equate to those of every one of the hundreds, thousands or millions of people who share the same allegiance. Football serves a deep human need for community, and that – plus the unscripted drama of the game – explains its success. We love our clubs because of what they are, not for what they do for their owners or employees.

That's why a co-operative form is a perfect fit with football, because in a co-op economics flow from purpose, not the other way around. In Europe, co-operative and mutual ownership is commonplace, with almost a quarter of the top-flight clubs in UEFA's 53 member countries being owned and run this way. When Bayern Munich play in the Champions League final in 10 days' time, they will make it the 14th final in the past 21 years to feature a fan-owned and run club.

Here, though, the battle to bring the values and virtues of co-operatives to bear only really began in the past decade, starting in earnest with the formation of Supporters Direct in 2000.

The supporters co-operatives they set up have been slowly building their influence and now own the controlling stake in 25 clubs. The highest-placed is Brentford in League one. Sixteen more have a minority stake greater than 10%, while a fan is elected onto the board to represent fans at 46 clubs; Swansea City in the Premiership is the highest profile, with their fans co-operative owning 20% of the club and having lifelong fan Huw Cooze on the Board.

Swansea's success illustrates a problem facing supporters' co-ops; that they tend to make gains when clubs are in crisis. When the previous owners ran Swansea into the ground, fans got their break and purchased it alongside four local businessmen for a fraction of what it is now worth, because no one else was interested. All those other motives – pension fund, development and the rest – fade away, leaving only love and loyalty to drive prospective owners of last resort.

Where the club isn't in crisis (football's version of rude health), fans struggle to get the required liquidity quickly enough to beat rivals when existing owners look to sell up.

As a result, most experiences of fan ownership begin with a monkey on the club's back. Where they takeover, they do so with inherited debt. Where they form a new team to replace a liquidated predecessor (such as at Scarborough Athletic), they often start minus a ground, which will have been lost in the collapse of the old club.

But to see what can be done if a club can get past the problems, just look at Exeter City. Fans took on debts of £1m, but instead of labouring for years to pay them off, they drew Manchester United in the FA Cup and with their share of the attendance money, wiped those debts out in a stroke.

They've had the chance to build, rather than just deal with the mistakes of the past, and have seen the club achieve two of the five promotions in its history, finish as high as they ever have up the footballing pyramid and are enjoying a 60% increase in attendance. These are the good old days for the club.

But they also embody the biggest problem supporter co-operatives face. Like all co-operatives, they must be profitable, since their only source of revenue and capital is their members. This marks them out as oddities in the world of football, where clubs are run as extensions of their owners' interests and underwritten by their private wealth; making a surplus is a nice idea, but one rarely achieved.

This is particularly ironic given the way the existing powers view fan involvement in clubs. I've been in offices in the Premier League and Football League, where executives have cartoons on the wall showing how "unreasonable" fans are: speech bubbles from the terraces call for all the best players in the world to be signed with scant consideration for the financial implications.

It was a point made in more formal ways than cartoons. Many chairmen told Supporters Direct that fan involvement would lead to financial catastrophe. Coming from people in charge of a sector in which more than 50% of its professional business have become insolvent since 1992, this is more than a little hypocritical.

But the ruinous economics they have presided over is rigged against people who want to be sane and sustainable, like supporters co-operatives must be. Players' wages bear less relationship to what the clubs employing them can actually afford on their own generated trading income, and rely instead on subsidies from their wealthy owners.

In other co-operatives, seeing other businesses act stupidly is good news, for virtue has its own reward. Not so in football, where sitting out the madness isn't an option. That isn't from unreasonable fans demanding success but from them being disenchanted with the idea that a weaker squad's outcome for the season is already decided before a ball has been kicked.

For many of the clubs where fans call the shots, this isn't a problem – yet – as they play in the lower leagues of the football pyramid where their larger fanbase more than compensates, but the ultimate success of fan co-operatives depends on the game being made safe for people who think it's a good idea that clubs don't lose money hand over fist.

After years of opposing any regulations to help bring this about, there's been a sea change in attitudes, as UEFA's imposition of such rules has demonstrated the power of regulatory bodies to act. That, combined with the size of debts in the midst of a recession, has concentrated minds, and across all four divisions there are measures in

place to bring costs under control. These new rules still have many loopholes, and there is a real issue that the changes won't come about quickly enough for co-operative clubs, whose ability to keep pace by generating new income from members is more constrained in a recession.

To really change the face of football will take more than waiting for basket cases to finally come into fan ownership. Their commitment to openness, sustainability and community engagement should compel more active support from the game's authorities. However, their position of "ownership neutrality" is in reality to be against it, given the impediments it faces. Real support will be needed from government.

The coalition government took office with a pledge to "encourage co-operative ownership of clubs by supporters", and for a time there were encouraging signs that there might be genuine progress. The DCMS select committee published a report endorsing, amongst other things, fan involvement in clubs and on boards. Yet despite initially agreeing with the report, the government then pronounced itself satisfied with a response from the game's governing powers that pretty much ignored all of these ideas.

Politicians have been comfortable with willing the ends of fan ownership, but if it is to really take root in the UK, like in so many areas, they need to will the means, even if that means going beyond their generation-long stance of non-intervention in the economic sphere.

In the meantime, the biggest hope comes from the community shares scheme used by FC United of Manchester. The club, formed by fans of Manchester United disgruntled not just at the Glazer takeover, which saw their loyalty "monetised" to pay for the leveraged buyout by their absentee owners.

Underpinning the club was a new vision of what the point of a football club was, one much more in keeping with the founding ethos of the game and the community basis of clubs.

They were successful in raising £1.6m from 1,400 fans, an impressive feat at any time, not least in the current economic climate. While their success is built on years of engagement with fans, which many fans' co-operatives need to emulate, it does hold out an intriguing and co-operative outcome.

Having been subject to flirtations with the stock exchange and securitisation, football clubs are now in a position where serious investors know they will lose some or all of their money. Banks had come to the same judgment years ago, with football being one of the few areas in the years leading up to the crash where they seemed to show restraint in who they lent to.

The main sources of capital – or revenue subsidy as it is in most cases – is wealthy individuals. But for every top-flight club on the verge of global exposure through the Champions League who might have many suitors, there are so many more who will appeal only to their fans.

It's been said that every revolution is the act of kicking in a door that's already rotten. If fan co-operatives can get their act together, and raise their capital together, fan co-operatives might find the door offers even less resistance.

Dave Boyle 9th of May, 2012.

Dave Boyle worked for over 10 years at Supporters Direct from its
inception in 2000, the last 3 as their CEO. He is now a writer,
researcher and consultant, and co-operative development worker who
blogs at and is on twitter as @theboyler