FC United positive about stadium plans after setback

Michael Hunt

The club is "quite confident" an alternative site can be found after Manchester City Council withdrew funding towards its plans to build a stadium in Newton Heath.

FC United, set up in 2005 by angry Manchester United FC fans following the take over of the Premier League club by the Glazer family, was given planning approval by the council last November for a 5,000 capacity stadium to be built in Newton Heath.

FC United proposed new and renovated community sports facilities and a multi-function community space on the existing site of the Ten Acres Lane sports centre, which is owned by Manchester City Council and actually covers 6.3 acres.

On Friday, the council said due to the central government funding cuts it could no longer support the plans.

However, the council is currently carrying out a feasibility study to enable a proposed option to be brought forward.

Andy Walsh, club general manager, told Place: "The decision was a bitter pill to take but we feel reassured and quite confident by the meetings we've had with the council that a better proposition will come up than the one we have at Ten Acres.

"There is a lot of work to do between now and the next three or four weeks but we expect a decision on our new plans by the end of March. I'm not at liberty to discuss the sites being looked at the moment."

The £3.5m development in Newton Heath was being funded through public cash donations, a community shares scheme, and grant funding totalling £1.5m. The council was pledging around £650,000 towards the project.

The club hoped to raise £1.5m through its community share scheme which involved investors purchasing £1 shares to a value ranging from £200 up to £20,000.

Walsh added: "I'm not in a position to answer what is happening exactly with our community shares scheme but those people who bought shares will be receiving communication from the club this week. We've raised £1.3m through the community shares scheme and have had additional pledges of £120,000 on top of that."

In a joint statement with the club, the council said on Friday: "The Council acknowledges the immense amount of energy, time and effort that FC United and its members have invested in the Ten Acres Lane proposal to date and remain absolutely committed to helping FC United achieve its ambition of building a new ground in time for the 2012-13 season.
"It shares the club's vision for improving and developing football and sports provision and to that end, the Council is seeking to examine the most financially viable solution for a ground and community football facilities in the city, which makes the most use of Council resources. The City Council will carry out detailed feasibility work to enable a preferred option to be brought forward."

FC United currently uses Gigg Lane in Bury for football matches.

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