Supporters of fan-owned, co-operative football club FC United of Manchester are celebrating today after raising over £1,6m from a community share issue to help fund a new football ground and community sports facility in Moston, north Manchester. Reaching the £1.6m target will help the club unlock the grant funding they need to meet the costs of the £4.6m project and enable building to start on the Moston site in the spring.
Speaking today, FC United general manager Andy Walsh, said: "Reaching our £1.6m target from the share issue is a fantastic achievement, especially in the current economic climate. We believe this is the largest amount ever raised by football supporters independently. Raising capital through community shares is a unique development in English football and has been recognised as offering a real alternative to the way football is run and financed.
"Our shareholders all have just one vote regardless of the number of shares they hold, preserving the common ownership of the club. Community shares give a tangible way for fans to raise significant sums of money whilst preserving the football club as a community asset. We believe community shares is preferable way of raising finance to borrowing from banks and more sustainable than relying on wealthy individuals who may not always have the best interest of the club at heart.
"By buying community shares, FC United members are supporting a better way for football to deliver genuine community benefit - one that is owned and run by supporters and committed to wider community and social development and financial sustainability," said Walsh. "Our groundbreaking development will create a positive and lasting legacy in Moston, creating new sports and non-sports facilities for the area for generations to come," said Walsh.
FC United of Manchester has helped pioneer community shares, working closely with Co-ops UK. The share schemes are designed to enable cooperative organisations like FC United to raise finance from local communities to support expansion and development much more effectively than through traditional methods such as bank borrowing.
Ed Mayo, secretary general of Co-operatives UK, the UK trade association for co-operative organisations, said: "Hollywood could not write a better script of hope and triumph. Through hard work and open collaboration, FC United has become a beacon for sport and community action. I want to pay tribute to the members of the club for pioneering a model of community shares which is now being used as a form of lifeline finance for co-operative enterprise across the UK."
Kevin Jaquiss, partner in public services at Cobbetts LLP, the Manchester-based firm advising FC United on the community shares scheme, said: "The community benefit model behind FC United demonstrates how innovative thinking can offer alternative and successful ways to deliver public services - and a real way forward for community projects across the UK. We are delighted to have worked with FC United on the project and look forward to seeing their new ground and community facilities progress over the coming year."
The FC United board would also like to thank Co-ops UK, Key Fund, advisors Jim Brown and Hugh Rolo plus our lawyers Cobbetts and RSM Tenon our accountants. We are already talking to a number of other football clubs and community sports groups about how they might use similar share schemes to secure the future of their organisations.
Once again, thank you to each and every supporter. Together, we are showing that there is a better way for football.
For further information or to arrange an interview contact Andy Walker, FC United of Manchester Press and Communications Officer, on 07791 997602 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for Editors:
The FC United community share scheme has a minimum share purchase of £200. The share issue has been given advance approval by the HMRC Enterprise Investment Scheme and subject to personal circumstances this allows individuals to claim tax relief of up to 30 per cent on the amount that they purchase in the share scheme.
Full details of the scheme including all documentation, offer documents and a summary business and community use plan for FC United’s community football ground in Moston are available online at click here
PRESS RELEASE issued at 00:01hrs on 16 March 2012