Next Game: Pre-Season Friendly - Melksham Town Away on Saturday 7th July

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A First Hand Look At What Fan Ownership Can Achieve

Hayden Atkins, a third year journalism student at the University of Worcester, wrote the following post on his blog (link) after the friendly at FC United of Manchester on Saturday.

Atkins covered Hereford's reformation as part of his university work, and created the following documentary which can be viewed on the club's official YouTube channel here (link).

Here's the article, republished with permission:

I was one of several hundred Hereford fans that made the journey up to Broadhurst Park yesterday and after waiting so long to go, I came away feeling very happy indeed, despite Hereford losing 1-0 on the day.

If you don’t know about the FC United story, this is it in a nutshell. The club was formed by “rebel” Manchester United supporters in 2005 who had grown disillusioned with how proceedings at Old Trafford were being run. They despised the Glazer family’s debt-filled takeover and thoroughly believed that the game had gone from the hands of supporters to the greedy shareholders at the top of the commercial food-chain.

Some of the words in the FC United bar area - extremely poignant
Pics: Hayden Atkins
And with that, their decision was made and from a Stretford Pub all those years ago to now, FC United of Manchester was born and they have manage to build a football club that has seen four promotions, a new £6million stadium and the likes of Benfica grace their Broadhurst Park turf.

But what struck me immediately upon arrival was the care and design that had gone into the whole set-up and stadium. It’s as far away from the expensive and atmospherically devoid Old Trafford as you can be, but in itself, holds buckets of charm.

The supporters club was friendly and welcoming, and everyone at FC United was more than happy for the two sets of supporters to mix before, during and after the game, just as they did at Edgar Street last year.

Hereford flags intertwined with FC banners behind the away end
The long bar in the main terrace behind the goal is extremely charming, complete with 3g turf, framed FC United pictures and stickers from most sides that have ever visited Broadhurst Park. Even I was impressed by how many “Against Modern Football” stickers there were plastered around the place- not to forget the cheap beer that was on sale too.

It was everything you’d hope it to be and more- everything the club has worked so hard to become. It was interesting to talk to FC United fans about the prospect of 100% fan-ownership, and the difficulties and positives that brings to the club. There had been some fall out over the past year or so suggesting that some of those in the higher echelons of the club had neglected some of the core principles laid down when the club had originally formed.

Outside the impressive Broadhurst Park
People from outside the club were beginning to question how successful fan-ownership could be, but again, those hardcore FC United fans rebuffed any lingering negativity some try and direct at the club. “It’s our club and we will stay loyal to what we intended to begin” is that attitude that flows around the stadium, and you’ve got to admire them for that.

To some, things like a 50p rise in programme fees is petty, but for me, its another show of just how committed this club and its supporters are in remaining true to their name. They’re the sort of actions that can be commended when you want to keep the price down for everyone- one of the reasons the club was formed.

The programme which again, was excellent value for money
The whole set-up was slick, well-run and friendly. I remember Sir Alex Ferguson himself slating the project, suggesting these fans had got above themselves. But to him and others like him I say this. FC United is a reminder that socialists like Fergie and the Manchester United board had deserted the supporters, not the supporters Man Utd.

Supporters are and always will be the heartbeat of any sports team or football club, and FC United’s brazen attempt to challenge the dominant culture surrounding the beautiful game is truly admirable.

There’s not a single Russian oligarch in sight and to quote the FC fans who didn’t stop singing all game “That’s the way aha aha I like it”.

Inside the stadium