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FC United plan own stadium


FC United, the club founded by Manchester United fans, are going ahead with plans to build their own stadium.   The team currently plays at Bury's ground where they attract crowds of more than 2,000.   The stadium will have a 5,000 capacity and cost £3.5m.  It will be located in the Newton Heath area where Manchester United originated.  Most of the money will be raised through a community share fund which will offer a financial return, of up to 2 per cent above base rate, but donations will also play a part in fund raising.

Manchester City Council is to donate the land in return for the club running a community sports facility on the site which will serve one of the most deprived communities in the UK.   The club also hopes to raise £1.5m in grants, in addition to the £300,000 already raised through donations.  There is an 'asset lock', a legal agreement that prevents the ground being separated from the club and sold.

The club is a co-operative owned by almost 2,500 members.   It is claimed to be the biggest example yet of ownership of clubs by supporters rather than by rich individuals.  Season ticket prices were reduced from £140 to a minium of £90 two years ago because of the recession.  Supporters were asked to pay what they could afford above that and the average price paid went up from £140 to £160.

The club keeps costs in check.  Of its turnover of £500,000, about £100,000 goes on paying staff,  compared with an average of 67 per cent in the Premier League.   The club sees itself as a demonstration that football can change.  Its project is not just about building a stadium, but represents an ambition to change the face of football.