Friday, April 20, 2012

Northwich Victoria supporters to protest at FC United match against how their club has been run

 Source: Northwich Guardian

 NORTHWICH fans will show what they think of how the club they love has been run in recent years in a protest at tomorrow’s match.

They plan to show the red card – literally, with hundreds of coloured papers due to be given out by volunteers around the ground before kick off against FC United of Manchester – during the game to Vics owners past and present.

“Enough is enough,” said Mark Riding, the man behind what has been dubbed the 1874 Protest, a reference to the year in which Vics were formed.

“Our club has been around for close to 140 years, the past 10 of which have been disastrous off the pitch no matter who has been in charge.

“We want to send a simple message; Northwich fans are fed up of the club lurching from one crisis to another and we want that to change, now.

“This is our last chance, this season anyway, to make people aware of just how strongly we feel.”

He said that supporters, including those cheering for the hosts, will raise the red card after 18 minutes of Saturday’s Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division encounter.

They will chant ‘We want change’ while doing so.

The message will be the same when the clock reaches 74 minutes, with arms aloft once more.

Officials at FC United, plus stewards from Bury – the club which owns Gigg Lane where the Rebels host their home matches – have granted permission for the demonstration.

“I’ve organised this for the fans to have a voice,” said Mr Riding, who has watched the team since moving to Northwich a decade ago.

“The reaction so far has been really positive, including from FC United fans, so I’m hopeful we’ll succeed in letting people know how disillusioned we are.

“This is not an anti-Jim Rushe stunt; the club’s problems date to before he took over.”

Northwich were expelled from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League last Friday after officials found the club guilty of breaking finance rules.

The team has been barred from taking part in the promotion play-offs too.

An FA panel will listen to the club’s appeal on Tuesday.

FC United need to beat Northwich, and hope Worksop spring a surprise against fifth-placed Hednesford, to make safe a place in the top five.

They currently occupy sixth spot in the standings, but could be offered Vics’ place in the play-offs if the latter’s appeal is unsuccessful.

“As a fan-owned club, FC United supports the right of fans to make their views known and we have informed Bury’s safety staff to avoid any concerns that may arise,” said a spokesman for FC United.

“We also respect the constitution of the Northern Premier League and respect the right of Northwich to appeal against the league’s decision.”

Independent fans’ group Northwich Victoria Supporters Trust issued a statement on Friday outlining their position on the planned protest.

It read: “The trust board have real sympathy with those Vics supporters who have suffered over the past few months.

“We are aware too that a large majority of fans are extremely unhappy with the way the club has been run for a number of years.

“Indeed, it has been a series of off-field matters that appear to have left our proud football club limping out of existence.

“We continue to work hard preparing for the possibility of having to start a new club in order to prolong the long history of one of the oldest clubs in Cheshire.

“The trust board has waited for contact from the club’s owner, but it has not been forthcoming. It seems then, that with the backing of a large number of supporters, that our plan will have to be implemented.”

By Andrew Simpson