FC United's fan share scheme enters last month

FC United of Manchester’s unique Community Shares Scheme has entered its final month with the investment window closing on Tuesday 30th November. The club, founded in 2005 by disillusioned Manchester United fans, is giving supporters and the wider community the chance to invest in its future by buying shares to raise funds for a new £3.5m stadium. Supporters can invest a minimum of £200 and maximum of £20,000.

The development has a planned capacity of 5,000 and would allow the club to move from Bury’s Gigg Lane to Newton Heath and “leave a lasting legacy for future generations”. It is one of 10 pilot Community Shares Schemes backed by the Government, and the only football club to be involved.

Instead of turning to the private sector or wealthy sugar daddies for support it’s hoped the local community and fans can raise the capital, giving themselves a permanent stake in the club. While this investment ensures supporters are at the very heart of everything the club does, the club’s business plan also provides for potential financial returns for shareholders.

FC United hopes the share issue will raise £1.5m in total, with an equal amount coming from grant funding. The club has also now raised more than £300,000 in donations with a £500,000 target now in sight and those wishing to donate, rather than invest, can do so here. The stadium will fall under the club’s ‘asset lock’, a legal agreement that prevents the club’s assets being sold off, and ensures continued community use.

Andy Walsh, FC United general manager, said: “FC United has achieved a great deal in the five years since its foundation, despite not having a permanent home. With our own ground and community facilities we can achieve much more, making the club sustainable and fulfilling our ambition to become a beacon showing a better way for football.

“Through the community share issue we can make that happen. At a time when many clubs are in debt or in the hands of major investors, we aim to demonstrate that there is a real alternative. We want to change the way football is run and financed by putting supporters at the heart of the game.

“We are offering supporters and others the chance to be part of this exciting development and help make football history. This is a landmark opportunity to invest in a club bringing football back to the heart of its communities and leave a lasting legacy for future generations.”

The club are very clear in their commitment to the community and any new development will reflect that with the designs including community sports facilities such as 3G five-a-side pitch, a renovated sports hall and club house open for use by locals. Manchester City Council are due to rule on planning permission on Thursday 25th November.

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