Definitions

Walthamstow Avenue F.C

F.C. United of Manchester

Football Club United of Manchester (FC United of Manchester, FC United, FCUoM or FCUM for short) is a semi-professional English football club based in Bury. The club was formed in 2005 by Manchester United supporters following Malcolm Glazer's controversial takeover which led to thousands of supporters defecting from the club. They are affectionately referred to as "The Red Rebels".

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 team is managed by the former Macclesfield Town player Karl Marginson.

History

Formation

The club was founded in the summer of 2005 by disgruntled supporters of Manchester United. Although those supporters had various reasons for their dissatisfaction with the club, the prime catalyst for FC United's formation was the hostile takeover of Manchester United by the United States businessman Malcolm Glazer. United supporters had previously considered forming a new club in response to a proposed takeover by Rupert Murdoch in 1998, but the takeover bid was unsuccessful so the idea was not implemented. When it was announced that Glazer was considering taking over the club, the idea was brought up again as a possible "last resort" and discussed in Manchester United fanzines including Red Issue.

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).

2005-06 season

FC United's first public match was an away friendly fixture against Leigh RMI on 16 July 2005. The match ended 0–0.

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).

After a successful season the NWCFL Division Two trophy was awarded at the home game against Great Harwood Town FC on Saturday 22 April 2006, in front of a crowd of 6,023, an NWCFL record attendance.

2006-07 season

FC United's first match in the North West Counties League Division One (Step 5 of the National League System) was against St Helens Town on Saturday 12 August 2006, FC United winning 2-0. The season was an impressive one for FC United with a strengthening squad and good off-field support. The club achieved a league and cup double. They were promoted to the Northern Premier League Division One North on 7 April 2007 after beating Ramsbottom United and were confirmed as champions on 18 April 2007 after beating Atherton Laburnum Rovers 7-1 at Gigg Lane. They also won the NWCFL's Challenge Cup final, beating Curzon Ashton 2-1, becoming only the third side to complete the NWCFL league and cup double.

They were eliminated from their first season in an FA competition (the FA Vase) at the third round stage by Quorn.

2007-08 season

FC United played in the inaugural year of the Northern Premier League Division One North, losing their first two games against Lancaster City on 18 August (1-2) and against Garforth Town on 22 August (0-1) before moving into a mid table position with wins over Bridlington Town and Rossendale United.

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.

2008-09 season

League history

Season League Pld W D L F A Pts Pos Average Att Notes
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

source Football club history database

Organisation

FC United is an Industrial and Provident Society. Membership is obtained by paying an annual fee of £10 to the club (£3 for children), but each member receives only one share in the club and is entitled to a single vote at meetings, regardless of the amount donated.

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:

  1. The Board will be democratically elected by its members.
  2. Decisions taken by the membership will be decided on a one member, one vote basis.
  3. The club will develop strong links with the local community and strive to be accessible to all, discriminating against none.
  4. The club will endeavour to make admission prices as affordable as possible, to as wide a constituency as possible.
  5. The club will encourage young, local participation - playing and supporting - whenever possible.
  6. The Board will strive wherever possible to avoid outright commercialism.
  7. The club will remain a non-profit organisation.

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.

Future aspirations

In November 2006 at the club's Annual General Meeting, the club outlined bold aspirations for the forthcoming six years including:

  • winning promotion in three successive seasons to take them to Conference North by 2009. (This goal was completed, however due to league restructuring F.C. United have to be promoted one more time to reach Conference North.)
  • reaching an average of 5,000 supporters per home game by 2009.
  • building their own 7,000 - 10,000 capacity stadium, as central to Greater Manchester as possible, by 2012.
  • developing their own training facilities by 2009.
  • starting a women's team for the 2007-08 season. (This has not happened yet).

Results

  • Winning promotion in three successive seasons was accomplished on 3 May 2008, and they currently compete in the Northern Premier League this season. One further promotion will put the team in Conference North by 2009-10, exactly as planned in November 2006.

Current squad

The club's current squad (at September 12, 2008) for the 2008/09 season includes the following players:

(on loan to Bacup Borough)

Players on the coaching staff

Phil Power Born in Salford on 25 July 1966. A striker whose previous clubs include Horwich R.M.I., Northwich Victoria, Crewe Alexandra, Macclesfield Town and Altrincham. FC United's assistant manager. Signed for FC United from Bacup Borough, having worked as a residential care worker for Salford Council for three years.

Former players on the coaching staff

Tony Cullen Born in Salford on 25 September 1973. A former young professional with Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa before dropping into non-League with Altrincham and Salford City amongst others. Plays in midfield or at right-back. Cullen was appointed as reserve team manager for FC United from the season 2006-2007 onwards and is currently taking his coaching badges.Darren Lyons Born in Manchester on 9 November 1967. Coach, who played as a right-winger for FC United before retiring at the end of the 2006-07 season. Has played for Bury, Macclesfield Town and Altrincham. Former player-manager of Salford City and East Manchester. Signed from Flixton.Chris Simms Signed for FC United from Maine Road in December 2005. He had played in over 500 matches for Maine Road, and was player-manager at the time of his transfer. Described by Karl Marginson as a "massive Manchester United fan...eager to be part of what we want to achieve here.".

Notable former players

Honours

Records

References

Printed

Media

  • Rory Patterson Scores From The Halfway Line

Online

External links

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