Source: Rochdale Online
Supporter-owned football club FC United of Manchester is celebrating after being named Football Foundation Community Club of the Year in this year’s National Game Awards, organised by The Non-League Paper.
The prestigious award was decided by a panel of judges from The Non-League Paper following the compilation of a shortlist based on supporters’ nominations. FC United, who play in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, overcame stiff competition from all non-league clubs to take the award, and the achievement is a testament to the hard work done by all FC United supporters, volunteers, staff, players and those with whom the club works in the local community.
Announcing the award, Stuart Hammonds from The Non-League Paper highlighted FC’s work on initiatives like Big Coat Day, which collected over six tons of warm weather clothing for the homeless, the club’s wellbeing project working with older people and initiatives working with children in care. Hammonds also praised the overall ethos of the club for striving to make a difference in everything it does, and this was displayed recently as FC United supporters raised over £1.6m from a community share scheme to help fund the club’s new football ground and community sports facility in Moston.
Commenting on winning the award, FC United general manager Andy Walsh said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive national recognition for the community work we do. We have a team of volunteer and paid coaches that includes some of our own fans, some of our players and our coaching staff including manager Karl Marginson. There are good community schemes all over the place but our approach is unique as it’s not all about FC United. We work with other community groups to access opportunities and that makes the whole community stronger,” said Walsh.
Walsh also spoke of the importance of the community share scheme. He said: “At a time where sponsorship is hard to come by and ground funding is very difficult to get, the community share scheme presents big opportunities. It has also given confidence to other funders such as the Football Foundation, Sport England and Manchester City Council, to put some money in themselves to help us achieve our ambition,” said Walsh. “We’ve always said that if you involve supporters at the heart of a football club and give them responsibility and ownership of the club, that faith will be repaid in handfuls.
“Winning the Football Foundation Community Club of the Year award is a brilliant achievement for FC United and it will inspire the club and its supporters to do even more in the months and years ahead. Thank you to everyone who has made winning this award possible – we couldn’t have done it without you,” Walsh concluded.