12 February ~ FC United of Manchester's recent announcement that they have submitted proposals to the city council to build their own stadium could not have come at a more significant time, with the the "green and gold" uprising against the Glazer regime continuing to gather pace among Man Utd fans. Born in 2005 out of the original fan disillusionment that greeted the Glazer takeover, FC United have used Bury's Gigg Lane as their makeshift home ever since. After three consecutive promotions and one season of consolidation, the "Rebels" now find themselves in the Unibond Premier League. Owning their own ground is now seen as a necessity if they are to climb the final two rungs of the non-League ladder.
Hence the 4,000 capacity stadium they hope to begin building in the coming months. That it's to be located in Newton Heath only adds to the symbolic significance. This, of course, is the area where the club now known as Manchester United formed in 1878. This season's average home attendance of around 2,000 makes FC United one of the best-supported non-League clubs in the country. Away fixtures are often transformed into smaller, more intimate versions of home games as their support usually outnumbers their hosts. But it is their potential fanbase that makes them a Football League club in waiting.
FC already attracts players that would otherwise play at a higher level. "This is a unique club and any player would want to play here," said ex-Doncaster midfielder Adriano Rigoglioso after signing for the club in December. "I could've gone elsewhere for more money, but opportunities like this don't come around very often."
As Man Utd fans run out of patience and, perhaps more pertinently, money, they could turn to a club that truly represents them. FC United have the fanbase of a League club, they have the name and now they may soon have the stadium too. Sam Williams