Although the majority of the club's support comes from Manchester and the surrounding area, its supporters club has branches in more than ten countries including France, Poland, New Zealand, the United States and Canada. The local cable television station Channel M began a monthly series of programmes about the club in January 2006. Television crews from France, Israel and the Netherlands have been seen at the team's matches.
FC United's first three seasons were successful, winning promotion each time. FC United entered at the tenth level of the English football league system (the second division of the North West Counties Football League) and they were confirmed as champions on 15 April 2006 and followed that up by being crowned as champions of Division 1 on 18 April 2007. The 2007-08 season saw them finish second in the Northern Premier League Division One North then gain promotion through the end of season play-offs.
During their first season (2005-06), they had a higher average attendance than seven league clubs, including Bury with whom FC United share a ground. It was also the second-highest average attendance in English non-League football. Although attendances have fallen in subsequent seasons, they were still the 100th best supported club in 2007-08.. Their record attendance is 6,023 for a match against Great Harwood Town on 22 April 2006.
The Glazer family obtained overall control of Manchester United on 12 May 2005, and supporters who had opposed the takeover organized a meeting at the Manchester Methodist Hall on 19 May. Although the focus of the meeting was on continuing to oppose Manchester United's new owners rather than forming a new club, the meeting's chairman, Andy Walsh, announced that the formation of a new club would be discussed at a second meeting on 30 May and that Kris Stewart, the then chairman of AFC Wimbledon, had given much advice on setting up the club. It was decided that the club would be formed if 1,000 people pledged financial support by the end of July. This target was exceeded and the steering committee pushed ahead with plans for the club.
A nearby club, Leigh RMI, were in financial difficulties at the time and asked FC United to take them over, as the extra support from FC United would have ensured their club's survival. The founders of FC United refused this proposition because they were creating the club in response to an unpopular takeover and didn't feel that taking over another existing club was appropriate. The clubs remained on good terms, though, and FC United's first public match was a friendly against Leigh RMI.
The club's founders originally chose the name FC United, but the Football Association rejected this as too generic. Those who had pledged money to the club were then asked to vote on a name from FC United of Manchester, FC Manchester Central, AFC Manchester 1878 and Newton Heath United FC. On 14 June, 2005 it was announced that FC United of Manchester had been chosen with 44% of the vote. FC United continues to be used as an abbreviated form of the club's name.
Karl Marginson was appointed as manager on 22 June, and the club held trials for players on 26 June. 900 players applied to take part in the trials, of whom 200 were selected to do so and 17 were chosen to play for FC United, although most of those have since left the club. By 8 July 2005, over 4,000 people had pledged money to FC United and the club had over £100,000 in the bank.
FC United were admitted to the second division of the North West Counties Football League, putting the club at level ten of the English football league system, nine levels below the Premier League. The league had four spare places at the time, so no other club was denied promotion as a result of FC United's admission. The club was formed after the deadline for entering the FA Vase had passed so they were not eligible to play in it in the 2005–06 season, although they were able to play in the North West Counties League Challenge Cup. They were eligible to enter the FA Vase in the 2006-2007 season and made their debut in the FA Cup one year later. The club then arranged to play their 2005–06 home matches at Bury F.C.'s stadium, Gigg Lane where all home league games have been played since (with the exception of a couple of league fixtures, one in February 2006 versus Holker Old Boys which was played at Moss Lane, Altrincham, and one in December 2007 versus Rossendale United which was played at Stainton Park Radcliffe).
FC United entered the North West Counties League Division Two, and The League arranged for FC United's first league match to be away to the club with the biggest ground, Leek CSOB, in order to gauge whether it would be possible for other clubs to host FC United at their own grounds. It took place on Saturday 13 August 2005. It was not the first all ticket match in the history of the league as the Workington vs Mossley title decider on 3 May 1999 holds that honour. The attendance of 2,590, however set a new record for the NWCFL (beating the 2,281 from the Workington v Mossley match).
As a result of the eligibility rules for the FA Cup, they made their debut in this competition in the 2007-08 season and played away to Trafford in the Preliminary Round on 2 September, winning the fixture 5-2. They lost to Fleetwood Town 2-1 in the following FA Cup First qualifying round.
They advanced to the final of the 2007-08 Unibond Presidents Cup, even though they had lost the Quarter Final 1-5 to Nantwich Town. They were reinstated, however, after Nantwich had been disqualified because they had fielded an unregistered player, and went on to beat Radcliffe Borough in the final to pick up their fifth trophy in three years as a club.
The club finished the season second in the league, trailing champions Bradford Park Avenue by just one point, and entered the play-offs for the other promotion place. After beating Bamber Bridge FC 3-2 in the semis, FCUM faced Skelmersdale United in the promotion play-off final on May 3 2008, coming back from a goal down to win 4-1 and earn promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division.
|2005–06||North West Counties League Division Two||36||27||6||3||111||35||87||1/19||3,059||Champions|
|2006–07||North West Counties League Division One||42||36||4||2||157||36||112||1/22||2,581||Champions|
|2007–08||Northern Premier League Division One North||42||24||9||9||91||49||81||2/22||2,125||promoted via play-offs|
|2008–09||Northern Premier League Premier Division||10||4||2||4||20||16||14||10/22|
The club has an elected board of twelve members, but has not yet chosen a chairman. Tony Pritchard is acting as chairman until a decision is made.
The club has two full-time employee positions: Andy Walsh as chief executive and Lindsey Robertson. Andy Walsh was heavily involved in the club's formation.
The club's manifesto includes the following core principles:
The club accepts sponsorship but does not allow sponsors' logos to be displayed on the team's shirts. The club's main sponsor in its inaugural 2005-06 season was the Bhopal Medical Appeal and in season 2006-07 it was the Williams BMW Group.
(on loan to Bacup Borough)