FC United have hit their £1.6m share scheme target – kick-starting building work on their controversial new stadium.
The club, formed in protest at the Glazer family’s ownership of Manchester United, says work on the controversial £4.6m project will start in the next couple of months. We understand the club is in talks with a contractor and expect to sign a deal before the end of the month.
Legal documents are also expected to be signed, paving the way for work to start.
The club hailed the achievement, which saw fans snap up shares at £200 each, as ‘fantastic’ and claim it is the biggest ever amount raised by fans of an English football team.
The £1.6m joins a separate £250,000 raised in a development fund, a £550,000 grant from Manchester council, £300,000 from separate grants and £1.4m which the club are hoping to secure from Sport England and the Football Foundation.
A decision on that £1.4m is expected by the end of this month.
It is thought FC United bosses are ‘quietly confident’ that their bid will be successful.
That takes the total to £4.1m with the town hall stepping in with the final £500,000 in the shape of a loan if the club cannot raise it themselves.
FC United general manager Andy Walsh says the development, which features a 5,000 capacity stadium, community football pitches and a clubhouse on the Ronald Johnson Playing Fields in Moston, will ‘create a positive and lasting legacy’.
He added: "Reaching our £1.6m target from the share issue is a fantastic achievement, especially in the current economic climate. We believe this to be the largest amount ever raised by football supporters independently.
"Raising capital through community shares is a unique development in English football and has been recognised as offering a real alternative to the way football is run and financed."
The news was praised by Co-Operatives UK, the trade association for co-operative organisations. Secretary general Ed Mayo said: "Hollywood could not have written a better script of hope and triumph.
"Through hard work and open collaboration, FC United has become a beacon for sport and community action."
The club – who currently play home matches at Bury FC’s Gigg Lane – hope to be in their new ground for the start of the 2013/14 season.
Mike Keegan March 16, 2012