Friday, March 16, 2012

FC United raises £1.6m through community share issue

 Source: Third Sector

 Club formed by disenchanted Manchester United fans charged £200 per share to build new ground in Moston, north Manchester

Community-owned football club FC United of Manchester has raised £1.6m to buy a new ground through a community share issue.

This community share issue is the largest outside the energy sector, which has much more predictable returns for investors. A community share issue involves ordinary people buying shares in an industrial and provident society, which will then pay interest on those shares.

About 1,400 people invested at least £200 each to buy a share in the club. Each shareholder will have one vote in the administration of the club, regardless of how many shares they own.

The club will look to pay interest on shares, and shareholders will be able to withdraw their shares but not sell them on.

The share issue has been given advance approval by HM Revenue & Customs for the Enterprise Investment Scheme, which allows share purchasers to claim up to 30 per cent tax relief.

FC United was formed by Manchester United fans disappointed with the takeover of their club by the Glazer family. Its new ground will be in Moston, north Manchester.

The club expects to raise £4.6m in total for the ground. Other funding includes a grant of £550,000 from Manchester City Council and a possible £1.4m from Sport England and the Football Foundation, which is expected to be confirmed next month.

The rest has been raised through smaller grants and donations. If necessary, the club may take a further £500,000 loan from the council.

Andy Walsh, general manager at FC United, said: "Reaching our £1.6m target from the share issue is a fantastic achievement, especially in the current economic climate.

"Community shares give a tangible way for fans to raise significant sums of money while preserving the football club as a community asset. We believe a community share scheme is preferable to borrowing from banks and more sustainable than relying on wealthy individuals who might not always have the best interest of the club at heart.

"By buying community shares, FC United members are supporting a better way for football to deliver genuine community benefit."

By David Ainsworth, Third Sector Online, 16 March 2012