Rebel club FC United take step closer to new home

By Barrie White

FC United are confident that the rebel club will have a new permanent home by August 2012.

Manchester City Council had originally agreed to a £3.5million stadium on the Ten Acres Lane site in Newton Heath in a joint venture with FC United.

After reviewing its spending plans it was announced in March this year that Ten Acres Lane, to FC United’s dismay, was no longer considered a viable option.  

The club had spent two years building towards a scheme raising funds and the council pledged to work with them to identify new sites for development.

General manager Andy Walsh confirmed that the council had been true to its word and says that a report to the senior executive is imminent.

He said: “They have certainly demonstrated to me that they are committed to getting us a ground as soon as possible in Manchester.

“I think the shock and disappointment of losing Ten Acres Lane was dealt with in one breath.

“Then you’ve got to think, ‘right, well, what we going to do now?’” 

FC United, who were formed in 2005 as a member owned community club in a protest against the Glazer family taking control of Manchester United, were required to provide £1.5million to the joint project.

They remain driven by their fundamental aim of advocating fan ownership or fan representation in running professional football clubs.

This members’ structure made raising the money more difficult as the club pledged to give all those who share their vision a chance to contribute. 

Walsh said that the club has already raised over a million pounds through donations and membership, as well as ground development schemes.

But he admits there is plenty of work to be done before a new site – the identity of which should be revealed next week – is re-developed.

He said: “We’ve still got to bring all that funding in so once we get the council saying yes, there’s a new site for you to work on, we’ve then got to finance the lease.

“Then we’ve got to finalise the fundraising we’re doing ourselves through the ground development fund and community shares.”    

He added: “None of this is going to fall in our laps: that’s why we’ve been working so hard over the last five years to get us to this position.”

Walsh also rebuffed claims that the Ten Acres Lane development was placed under review due to Manchester City.

He admitted that the joint agreement between the Eastlands club and the city council to regenerate the area around Alan Turing Way may have impacted on the decision.

But he also stated that the £2million FC United are putting towards their project caused the council to look to spend that money elsewhere.

He said “We’ve been told by senior people in the council that City are not going to be given Ten Acres Lane.”

Walsh added: “To be honest, I’m more concerned about what we’re going to do than about what we might’ve done.”

He continued: “We’ve got to focus all our energies on making sure our football club is open for business in August 2012”.

Eamonn O’Rourke, Head of Leisure at Manchester City Council, said:

“We are currently considering a number of potential locations for the FC United stadium so it would be inappropriate to comment on specific sites.

“We will be making an announcement next month once locations have been evaluated and a preferred site selected.

“We need to ensure the stadium delivers the greatest possible benefits with the biggest positive community impact.”

Related Articles