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Football Club United of Manchester (FC United of Manchester, FC United, FCUoM or FCUM for short) is a semi-professional Englishmarker football club based in Burymarker and currently playing in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, the 7th tier of league football. The club was formed in 2005 by Manchester United supporters following Malcolm Glazer's controversial takeover which led to hundreds 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 Manchestermarker and the surrounding area, its supporters club has branches in more than ten countries including Francemarker, Polandmarker, Norwaymarker, New Zealandmarker, the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker. The local cable television station Channel M began a monthly series of programmes about the club in January 2006. Television crews from Francemarker, Israelmarker and the Netherlandsmarker 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 Football 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 fell in the next two 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.

The club and its management have been described as 'self-publicists' by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson .

History

Formation

The club was founded on 14 June 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 Americanmarker businessman Malcolm Glazer. Manchester 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 Railway Mechanics Institute, 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 44.7% of the vote. (AFC Manchester 1878 received 25.7% of the vote, Newton Heath United FC 25.4% and FC Manchester Central 1.7%). 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's stadium, Gigg Lanemarker 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 County School Old Boys, 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 Unitedmarker 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 Townmarker. They were reinstated, however, after Nantwich had been disqualified because they had fielded an unregistered player, and went on to beat Radcliffe Borough 2-0 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 3-2 in the semis, FCUM faced Skelmersdale United in the promotion play-off final on 3 May 2008, coming back from a goal down to win 4-1 and earn promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division.

2008-09 season

FC United received an early setback at the start of the season when Rory Patterson and fellow striker Stuart Rudd, left the club to join rivals Bradford Park Avenue but manager Karl Marginson found a suitable replacement in Kyle Wilson, who would go on to become the club top scorer for the 2008-09 season.

They started the Northern Premier League Premier Division with an 3-3 draw at home against Matlock Townmarker, before settling into a mid-table position with a loss and a win in the next two games. 25 August 2008 saw the biggest crowd of the season up to that point, 2825, when FC United hosted ex-Football League team Boston United at Gigg Lane. The match ended 1-0 to Boston.

FC United started their second FA Cup campaign in the First Round Qualifying away at Nantwich Townmarker. The match ended goal-less, which meant that the tie would be decided at Gigg Lane, where FC United almost pulled off a fightback. Three goals down with 20 mins to go FC scored twice, but Nantwich held on to deny FC victory. FC United's misfortune in FA Competitions seemed to give way when they scored in the last minute of the First Round Qualifying match against Radcliffe Borough, but their run came to an end with a 3-1 defeat at home by Boston United in the 3rd Round Qualifying.

An indifferent run of results in the league left FC stranded in 11th place for several weeks. Gigg Lane witnessed one of the games of the season when FC United drew a ten goal thriller with Cammell Laird. 5-2 down with 20 minutes to go, FC produced one of the best fightbacks in its short history, to take a point. One of the lowest points of the season came when FC lost 4-2 at home to rock bottom Leigh Genesis, FC undone by a hat-trick by former Manchester United starlet Phil Marsh, who would go on to sign for FC United in the closing months of the season.

FC United's league form had improved after Christmas, but still they looked good for a mid table finish at best, with 48 points from 32 games, with only 10 games remaining. United were also without the services of 24-goal Kyle Wilson, whose season had been cut short by a knee injury. But FC went on a remarkable run of 7 wins and 2 draws to start the final week of the season as favourites to clinch the final play-off spot. FC United were locked on 71 points from 41 games, with Bradford P.A. and Kendal Town, but with a better goal difference. Spurred on by the season's biggest crowd of 3718, FC United looked to be heading for the play-offs with a 1-0 lead, but Bradford equalized with 7 minutes remaining. Kendal were drawing 2-2 and FC would still have gone through had the scores remained that way, but Kendal scored in the 88th minute to take the final play-off position. FC United have reportedly set themselves the target of winning the league next season.

2009-10 season

FC United's second season in the Northern Premier League Premier Division started disappointingly. At the end of September they were third from the bottom of the table with only three wins from ten matches. In their third FA Cup campaign they progressed to the fourth qualifying round, where they lost 3-0 to Northwich Victoria on the 24 October 2009. Before that defeat they had had wins over Sheffield in the first qualifying round and North Ferriby United in the second round and Stalybridge Celtic in the third. Their FA Trophy campaign started with a match away at Ashton Unitedmarker, which they won 1-3.

League history

Season

League Contested Tier

Pld

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Pts

League Position

Avg. Home

Attendance

|- bgcolor="#ACE1AF" align="center"
| 2005–06 || North West Counties League
Division Two || 10 || 36 || 27 || 6 || 3 || 111 || 35 || +76 || 87 || 1st of 19
Promoted || 3,059 |- bgcolor="#ACE1AF" align="center" | 2006–07 || North West Counties League
Division One || 9 || 42 || 36 || 4 || 2 || 157 || 36 || +121 || 112 || 1st of 22
Promoted || 2,581 |- bgcolor="#D0F0C0" align="center" | 2007–08 || Northern Premier League
Division One North || 8 || 42 || 24 || 9 || 9 || 91 || 49 || +42 || 81 || 2nd of 18
Won playoff
Promoted || 2,086 |-
2008–09 Northern Premier League

Premier Division
7 42 21 9 12 82 58 +24 72 6th of 22 2,152
|}


Source: Football club history database

P = Position; Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points;


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 eleven members.

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 prefer to use the term General Manager instead of Chief Executive, but the term Chief Executive has to be used for legal reasons.



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 yearsincluding:
  • winning promotion in three successive seasons to take them to Conference North by 2009. (The goal of three successive promotions 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 would have put the team in Conference North by 2009-10, exactly as planned in November 2006; however, United of Manchester ended in 6th place, missing the playoffs.


Current squad

The club's squad for the 2009/10 season as announced on 7th August 2009:

First Team Coaching staff

Darren Lyons
Born in Manchestermarker on 9 November 1967. First Team Coach, who played as a right-winger for FC United before retiring at the end of the 2006-07 season. Has also played for Bury, Macclesfield Town, Halifax Town, and Altrincham. Former player-manager of Salford City and East Manchester. Signed from Flixtonmarker.Goalkeeping coach is Karl Lineghan, ex Bradford City.

Notable former players



Honours



  • BBC North West Sports Awards
    • Newcomer of the Year 2006






  • Supporters Direct Cup
    • Winners 2006-07


  • Jimmy Davis Memorial Cup
    • Winners 2007-2008




  • Northern Premier League Presidents Cup
    • Winners 2007-08


Records

  • Record League victory: 10-2 v Castleton Gabrielsmarker, 10 December 2005
  • Record win margin: 8
  • Record League defeat:
  • Most goals scored in a match by one player: 5 – Simon Carden v Castleton Gabrielsmarker, 10 December 2005
  • Record home attendance: 6,023 at Gigg Lane, Bury – v Great Harwood Town, (NWCFL, Division Two), 22 April 2006
  • Worst home attendance: 756 at Gigg Lane, Bury – v Lancaster City (FA Trophy), 4 November 2009
  • Longest unbeaten run: (League) 22 games, 3 December 2006 to 18 August 2007
  • Most League games won in a row: (League) 13, 29 April 2006 to 30 September 2006 (last game of 2005-06 season and first 12 games of 2006-07 season).


References



Printed

  • FC United of Manchester Official Match Programme, volume 1, issues 1,7
  • Under The Boardwalk , issue 3 (October 2005)
  • FC United of Manchester Yearbook 2005-06


Media

  • Rory Patterson Scores From The Halfway Line[142268]


Online

  • An Undividable Glow by Robert Brady. The story of FCUM's first season. [142269]
  • Their own TV show!! [142270] with LIVE match radio commentary


External links




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