FC United are hoping to start building work on their controversial new £4.6m stadium by this summer, we can reveal.
Bosses at the rebel club, formed in protest at the Glazer family’s ownership of Manchester United, want to be in the 5,000-capacity Moston development in time for the 2013/14 season.
And they believe ground could be broken before the end of Spring after they edged closer to their funding target.
FC, who currently play at Bury’s Gigg Lane, need to show that they have the money in place before building work can begin.
Of the £4.6m total, £1.6m will come from a community share scheme.
Last month we reported that the club was £200,000 short of the share scheme mark but this has now been reduced to about £80,000, club officials say.
A further £250,000 has been raised via a development fund with an additional £550,000 secured in the form of a grant from Manchester council.
About £300,000 will come from a collection of other grants while £1.4m is subject to funding from Sport England and the Football Foundation, with a decision expected by the end of March.
That takes the total to £4.1m – and last month we told how the town hall would step in with a £500,000 loan to make up the rest if necessary.
But FC bosses remain hopeful they can raise the additional amount themselves. Manchester council also handed over £200,000 for feasibility studies.
FC’s general manager, Andy Walsh, said: "The funding is coming together as planned and we are looking forward to beginning work in either late spring or early summer."
The site is currently leased from Manchester council by Moston Juniors FC.
They will be given new pitches inside the development, which includes a public medical room which will be managed by club physiotherapists.
Formed in 2005, FC United currently play in the seventh tier of English football and this season have been averaging crowds of about 1,800.
Campaigners have protested against the stadium being built on what they see as a precious green space.
They also say an existing covenant on the land prohibits it for being used for such a purpose and are worried the stadium will bring an increase in anti-social behaviour and traffic problems.
One of the campaigners, Mike Patillo, pointed out that the club were still to complete the legal formalities.
He said: "They need a section 106 agreement which they haven’t got and until then they cannot build anything."
Exclusive by Mike Keegan February 27, 2012