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Interview with FC United’s Press Officer Andy Walker

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Set up in direct protest to the Glazer family takeover of Manchester United, FC United of Manchester and its supporters have been the renegade club of England for the last decade.

Ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary in June with a glamor-friendly against Portuguese giants Benfica, the club from Manchester will open the brand new Broadhurst Park with its 4,400 seat capacity. Though FC United will play a Benfica ‘B’ team, the message of intent from the club is clear – we are here to stay.

This week FC United took another step closer to England’s Football League as the club won promotion to the Conference North; the team’s fourth promotion in a decade. Though FC United is still two promotions away from League Two and the Football League, it resembles a much different club.

Despite the Red Rebels’ fame, or in some cases infamy, outside the UK soccer circles, FC United is just another semi-professional club. And many soccer fans will be excused if they are unaware of the club’s manifesto. But speaking with FC United’s Press Officer Andy Walker, he outlined what makes the team and its supporters different.

“FC United supporters would consider themselves, by and large, as Manchester United supporters,” Walker explained. “But the biggest difference is, those supporters don’t go to the games because they’re not prepared to support the Glazer [family] model of football.

“They don’t see themselves as breaking away from Manchester United, the supporters feel like Manchester United has moved away from them.

“The demographic of the club recognizes a different and better way to do football. All the members of FC United are the co-owners. We’ve got more than 3,800 co-owners at the moment and everyone has an equal say in how the club is run.”

With tickets at a rock-bottom £8 (approximately $12), FC United’s home matches resemble a DIY punk rock concert. Volunteers work the gates and sell matchday programs while fans congregate on the terraces of the club’s currently rented “home” stadium.

The level of support the club has garnered has been one of the biggest differences in FC United and its oppositions throughout its short history. Averaging around 2,000 people per game, the Red Rebels played in front of a noisy 3,588 people as the team secured promotion with a 1-0 win over Stourbridge.

Not only has the support on matchday been ever-present, but it has been away from the fixtures as well. The club’s new ground, Broadhurst Park, was built with half of the money coming from the local Manchester community.

“The ground has been over 50% financed through supporters, community shares and fundraising,” Walker stated. “That’s pretty significant for a club our size or any other size at the current time.

“We expect our attendances to go up still. We have affordable football at FC United, only £8 ($12) per match and £100 ($150) for a season ticket. One of our principles is affordable football, not to price anyone out of coming to watch football.”

When asked about the club’s structure and ticket pricing if and when FC United reaches the Football League, Walker explained with honesty.

“It’s not my decision, it’s not the general manager’s decision. It’s the members’ decision on the ticket prices.

“I do know, that for the Benfica friendly, we are not putting the ticket prices up. It’s still £8 for adults and £2 for under-18s, because we want as many people there for that game as possible. Ticket price is the members’ decision, we are democracy and that is how the club is run.”

With two mega-clubs already in Manchester and a host of clubs scattered around the city in the north-west of England, FC United has created a niche for itself. With a decade of memories and stand out moments, the club can now reflect on ten years of success ahead of next season’s debut in the Conference North.

“All of those moments and those memories have been made sweeter because you co-own this club and all the members share those moments. There’s a real bond between the supporters, players and the volunteers.”

Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @Calciofarmer. Drew Farmer is a Manchester, England-based journalist/blogger for ForzaItalianFootball.com and World Soccer Talk. Originally from Southwest Missouri, Drew covers Italy’s Serie A, the English Premier League and the USA’s Major League Soccer.

 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Marc

    April 23, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Promoted to the Conference North, and new stadium next campaign. League football in 5 years. Not bad for a club that shouldn’t of lasted past Christmas 10 years ago.

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