Supporter club plans ground at MUFC birthplace

Michael Hunt

FC United of Manchester has announced plans to develop a football ground in Newton Heath, east Manchester.

The supporter-owned club, established when the Glazer family took over Manchester United Football Club in May 2005, is proposing to include new and renovated community sports facilities and a multi-function community space at the 5,000-capacity stadium.

The club wants to provide new facilities that will hopefully create further investment in the area and opportunities for local people.

The site for the development is the existing Ten Acres Lane sports centre, which is owned by Manchester City Council.

FC United, urban regeneration company New East Manchester, and Manchester City Council have been working closely over the past two years to develop the plans and consultation will now progress with local residents, community groups and FC United members who own the club.

FC United is working to secure the finance for the £3.5m development, which will include a public appeal for donations, a community shares issue and grant funding.

Andy Walsh, club general manager, said: "We are delighted to be able to make this announcement and discussions with the council have been very positive to date. The significance of this location is historical while it will also showcase a new model of facility development, based on football supporter ownership and community involvement."

Cllr Mike Amesbury, executive member for leisure at Manchester City Council, added: "We have been supportive of this development to date and we are pleased to now take it to the next stage. While there is a way to go yet we feel that this will have significant local community benefits and bring an iconic supporter-owned club to Manchester."

Eddie Smith, chief executive of New East Manchester, said: "We are working closely with FC United to help achieve their aspirations of acquiring land in Newton Heath for a new football ground. This is still very early stages but we are supportive of their proposals which would bring further regeneration benefits to east Manchester."

FC United hopes the development will be completed in the next two to three years, subject to consultation, funding and planning.

Newton Heath is the birthplace of current Premier League champions Manchester United FC.

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