FC United of Manchester – a co-operative football club

FC United of Manchester is a co-operatively owned football club, launched in 2005 by the fans in order to provide affordable football for all.

Since it was set up, growth has been one of its priorities. Achieving the club’s goals – keeping football community based and being fan led, rather than driven by profit – requires a great deal of both financial and human capital after all.

FC United members believe it is possible to create and sustain a successful, fans-owned, democratically-run football club that creates real and lasting benefits for supporters and local communities. The commitment to be of benefit to local communities is enshrined in the clubs rules and constitution.

How did they do it?

It was identified that an issue restricting the potential of the club to grow was that FC United had never had its own ground. The club played its home league matches at Gigg Lane in Bury. However, the rent for this ground was draining the club of revenue. They agreed that having their own facility would allow the club to guarantee its financial sustainability but it would also give them the opportunity to and fulfil their ambitions for their members and community.

In 2006, FC United launched the Development Fund, a campaign to raise £0.5m in donations. But the club soon realised that it needed to raise its target to £3m or more, and this was more than could be raised through donations alone. By 2009, FC United had over 2,000 members and it made sense to ask them to become investors as well as donors.

As part of their growth strategy and as member owned club, FC United undertook a unique development in English Football: building a football stadium and community facility in Moston, Manchester, part funded by an issue of community shares in the club.

Now, they’ve achieved their goal due to hard work, determination, and a goal that was driven by the community, for the community. The new facility, Broadhurst Park, is the UK’s newest football ground and the first new ground to be built and funded by a supporter-owned football club.

FC United grounds
FC United grounds

FC United’s members were involved at every stage during the design and construction process and the result is a stadium and community facility that is the envy of many clubs in higher leagues.

Described by FC Business magazine as the best new non-league ground in the country, Broadhurst Park is also set to be one of the greenest. FC United is looking to create the first pollinator-friendly football stadium in the UK after supporters won a £4,000 Grow Wild community project award to develop a landscaping project at the ground.

Fundraising and accessing finance

Funding for the £6.3m facility has come from a variety of sources. FC United fans have raised £2 million from a pioneering Community Share scheme and close to a further £1 million from other fundraising. Grant funding has also been provided from Sport England (Iconic Facilities Fund), the Football Foundation (FSIF), Football Foundation (Community Facilities Fund), Manchester City Council, Social Investment Business, Manchester College and Viridor Credits.

Below are some great videos created during both the club’s community shares and crowdfunding campaigns:

This Crowdfunder campaign was incredibly successful they managed to raise £51,320 of the £26,000 target.

Why I Bought Community Shares from FCUM TV on Vimeo.

Community work

As a community facility, Broadhurst Park will be used every day by local people and will host a range of sporting and recreational activities. A well-appointed function room and meeting spaces are also available for the local community, businesses and other organisations to hire.

FC United’s community work covers a broad range of activities. All of them are based on two basic ideas:

  • A belief that we can all work together: inclusion and unity of purpose is essential to any football club. When that football club is a fan-owned club, a determination to make democracy work effectively is an added commitment.
  • A commitment to success: Football clubs aim to compete successfully and in all our community work we aim to give the people we work with the belief that they are winners and that together, we can succeed.
FC United
FC United

Since the early days of the club they have striven to give something back to the city, supporters and communities. FC United of Manchester have developed a wide range of partnerships with schools, colleges, charities, the FA and we have led several projects both at national and European level. With successful applications to bodies like Sport England, the National Lottery, the BBC Children in Need, and Youth In Action (the EU), and thier community work continues to expand.

Below is just some of the work FC United of Manchester to do provide opportunities for local people to learn, develop skills, socialise and have fun.

FC United of Manchester actively encourage more people from the area, and other community groups and organisations to partner up with them and spread important messages.

“FC United is a membership organisation and many of our members are also active or have been active in other community groups, trade unions, faith groups, sports clubs. As a result of this high level of community activism, the club recognises the contribution that volunteer-based organisations make. We therefore remain open to partnership working with a wide range of organisations.”

– FC United of Manchester in the Community website

All images courtesy of FC United of Manchester website.

Main image accredited to Eat My Sports.

Visit FC United of Manchester's website