Source: North and East Manchester Advertiser
Cash-strapped Manchester council has agreed to lend FC United up to £500,000 to build their controversial new ground.
Town hall chiefs stepped in after it emerged the club had failed to raise enough money to pay for the £4.5m stadium in Moston.
FC United planned to have generated £1.6m through a community share scheme towards the cost. But so far only £1.4m has been pledged by fans.
Now the council has stepped in with a promise to bridge the funding gap if the extra money is not raised.
The town hall will also cover any overspend, up to a limit of £500,000 – provided the club comes up with a ‘robust’ plan to pay the money back, with interest.
The promise comes on top of a £750,000 grant the council is already making towards the stadium. Council bosses stressed the money would be a loan, to be repaid in full, that would guarantee an ‘important’ development could go ahead.
Mike Patillo, who campaigned against the stadium, said: "I think it’s amazing that they can find half a million pounds when they’ve cut Sure Start budgets and they are closing down libraries."
The loan was agreed at a meeting of the town hall’s exectuve committee this week. Councillors also agreed to lease the club the land, on Ronald Johnson Playing Fields, for rent of £1 per year. FC United have made it clear they still want to raise the extra £200,000 themselves.
They have relaunched the community share scheme, which gives local people the chance to invest in the club. The stadium, which has proved highly divisive, was granted planning permission in October.
Mike Amesbury, the council’s executive member for culture and leisure, said: "Any loan to FC United would be at commercial rates, with interest, and not cost the council or council taxpayers a penny.
"What it would do is enable this important development to go ahead. The partnership between FC United and Moston Juniors, one of the largest junior football clubs in Manchester will create the basis for an excellent sporting hub in North Manchester. "
Andy Walsh, general manager of FC United, said: "The club welcomes the decision of the executive committee. There is still an outstanding grant from the Football Foundation to be processed.
"There is still a way to go but we are confident that we can raise the money needed to provide much-needed investment in Moston."