The Story of Manchester United to FC United of Manchester
The red devils, the pride of Manchester, playing at the "Theatre of Dreams", Manchester United is undoubtedly one of the biggest clubs of the world. Not only in metaphorical terms but also financially it is the only football club to touch billion dollars in brand value, thanks to its unparalleled fan-base spread all across the globe.
Historically, Manchester United has always been interpreted as the people's club. The passion that flows in has to be credited to the owners, the staff, the coaches, the players and the resulted success that the club and the fans have shared together over generations.
The Club was originally formed as the worker's team of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and was named as the Newton Heath LYR Football Club.
In 1892 the club was split from the Railway Company, facing a bankruptcy and the name was changed to Manchester United. Even after that, the club remained under the private ownership for over 100 years.
In 1902 the club invited bids for a takeover and attracted a number of Corporations and powerhouses. Later, in 2003 Mr. Malcolm *+Glazer announced his commitment for a percentage stake at the club and by the end of that year and its subsequent one, the Glazers had upped the control over the club.
By May of 2005, their stake percentage rose to 57% which would later be increased to 98% and further, a complete takeover of the club. By the end of the takeover, The Glazers valued the club to a staggering figure of 800 million pounds.
The majority of the Glazer's money came from bank loans, Hedge funds and Pay in Kind(PIK) loans. And most of them were tied with the club's assets. With hefty interest rates each year, the club would be in a debt(over 250 million pounds) for the first time after so many years.
This didn't go down well for a number of Manchester United fans as, for them, this translated as a tarnish of the Manchester United pride and culture which they have preserved for generations.
Protests began against the Manchester United board demanding the club to go public again and drop out glazers.
credits: Who owns football?
credits: Who owns football? - VPRO documentary - 2014[/caption]
After no responses from the Club's side, efforts were made to buy the club from the supporters money, which ultimately failed.
Even after failed repeated efforts, a group of supporters got together and planned to part ways. The idea? Putting passion over money!
"F.C. United of Manchester" (after 'FC United' was discarded by the FA for being too generic)
The F.C. United of Manchester is now the largest fan-owned football club in the United Kingdom(in terms of the number of members). After it's formation in 2005 FC United played at the Gigg Lane Stadium which was the home of Bury F.C. They took the traditional colours of United-Red, Black and yellow as their home colours and their emblem was inspired by the shipping industry of Manchester- A ship and three stripes representing the three rivers that flow through the city.
Founding the core values of the club, it is democratically run and all members have equal voting rights and own one share each.
The club's manifesto includes the following core principles:
- The Board will be democratically elected by its members;
- Decisions taken by the membership will be decided on a one-member, one vote basis;
- The club will develop strong links with the local community and strive to be accessible to all, discriminating against none;
- The club will endeavor to make admission prices as affordable as possible, to as wide a constituency as possible;
- The club will encourage young, local participation—playing and supporting—whenever possible;
- The Board will strive wherever possible to avoid outright commercialism;
- The club will remain a non-profit organization.
It was also decided that the club won't adorn a sponsor for their shirt either. Though it was agreed that the club would accept sponsors but none can display their logos on the shirt.
Karl Marginson was chosen as the first manager of the club who managed it until last year. Tom Greaves now heads the team.
FC United of Manchester now also has their own stadium, thanks to a 6 million pound investment from various supporters, charities and Government support. Broadhurst Park, 4,000 seater stadium was opened for public from 2015. It recorded one of the highest attendances in non-league football with an average attendance of 3,300 per game.
The team had earned three consecutive promotions in three years since 2005 and currently plays in the National League North.
It's surely a long way to go for the club but it will remain to be one of the finest examples of fans realizing passion over money.