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F.C. United of Manchester

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United of Manchester
A circular badge with "Football Club United of Manchester" written in white capitals just inside the black circumference with a red trim. Inside is a yellow crest on a red background. The crest has a yellow ship with three sails on a white background, and three yellow stripes on a red background.
Full name Football Club United of Manchester
Nickname(s) F.C. United,
FCUM, Red Rebels
Founded 2005
Ground Tameside Stadium (groundshare with Curzon Ashton)
Broadhurst Park (under construction, due to open 2015)
Ground Capacity 4,000
Manager Karl Marginson
League Northern Premier League
Premier Division
2013–14 Northern Premier League
Premier Division, 2nd
Website Club home page
Current season

F.C. United of Manchester is an English semi-professional football club based in Moston, Manchester that plays in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. It was formed in 2005 by Manchester United supporters opposed to American businessman Malcolm Glazer's controversial takeover of the club. The club is owned and democratically run by its supporters.[1]

The club entered the North West Counties Football League Division Two in 2005, winning the league in their inaugural season. In their second season, they were crowned champions of North West Counties Football League Division One and were promoted to the Northern Premier League. The 2007–08 season saw them finish second in the Northern Premier League Division One North and gain promotion through the end of season play-offs. Since then they have played in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, reaching the play-off final in 2010–11, 2011–12 and 2012–13. The club also reached the Second Round Proper of the FA Cup in the 2010–11 season. F.C. United has played at Gigg Lane since its formation in a ground-share with Bury. However, the club's own ground in north Manchester is under construction and will open during the 2014–15 season. The team is managed by former professional footballer Karl Marginson.



A football game in progress between F.C. United in red and Leigh Railway Mechanics Institute in yellow. The F.C. United crowd watch on.
F.C. United's first game was a friendly against Leigh RMI.

The club was founded in 2005 by disenfranchised supporters of Manchester United.[2] Although they had various reasons for their dissatisfaction,[3] the prime catalyst for F.C. United's formation was the 12 May 2005 hostile takeover of Manchester United by the American businessman Malcolm Glazer.[4] After the name "F.C. United" was rejected by The Football Association for being too generic, all those who had pledged money to the club were asked to vote on a name.[5] On 14 June 2005, it was announced that "F.C. United of Manchester" had been chosen, beating "A.F.C. Manchester 1878", "Manchester Central" and "Newton Heath United".[5][6][7] "F.C. United" continues to be used as an abbreviated form of the club's name. Karl Marginson was appointed as the club's manager on 22 June 2005, and the club held trials for players on 26 June 2005.[8][9] Just under 900 players applied to take part in the trials, of whom 200 were selected to do so and 17 were chosen to play for F.C. United.[10] By 6 July 2005, over 4,000 people had pledged money to F.C. United and the club had over £100,000 in the bank.[11]

During their formation, the owners of Leigh Railway Mechanics Institute F.C. asked F.C. United to take over their club, however United refused the takeover offer as they believed that taking over an existing club would be hypocritical, given that F.C. United was formed as a result of Manchester United's takeover.[12] Instead, F.C. United's first game was a friendly match against Leigh RMI on 16 July 2005; the match ended 0–0.[13]

North West Counties Football League[edit]

F.C. United were admitted to the second division of the North West Counties Football League (NWCFL), putting the club at level ten of the English football league system, nine levels below the Premier League.[13] The club then arranged to play their home matches at Bury's stadium, Gigg Lane where the majority of their home league games have been played since.[13] As the club was formed after the deadline for entering the FA Vase, they were not eligible to play in the competition during the 2005–06 season, although they were able to play in the North West Counties League Challenge Cup.[14]

During their first season F.C. United consistently broke NWCFL attendance records, including an attendance of 6,032 during their final league match of the season, which is still an NWCFL record.[15] At this game F.C. United were crowned league champions at home against Great Harwood Town on 22 April 2006.[16] This secured their promotion to Division One.[17]

After a successful season in the NWCFL Division One, F.C. United were promoted to the Northern Premier League Division One North on 7 April 2007 after beating Ramsbottom United.[18] They were confirmed as champions on 18 April 2007 after beating Atherton Laburnum Rovers 7–1 at Gigg Lane.[19] They also won the NWCFL's Challenge Cup, beating Curzon Ashton 2–1 in the final, becoming only the third side to complete the NWCFL league and cup double.[20] They were eliminated from their first season in an FA competition (the FA Vase) at the Third Round stage by Quorn.[21]

Northern Premier League Division One North[edit]

In the 2007–08 season F.C. United played in the inaugural year of the Northern Premier League Division One North. As a result of the eligibility rules for the FA Cup,[22] they made their debut in this competition in the 2007–08 season and played away to Trafford in the Preliminary Qualifying Round on 2 September, winning the fixture 5–2.[23] They were eliminated in the next round of the competition, losing 2–1 to Fleetwood Town.[24] They advanced to the final of the 2007–08 President's Cup, in which they beat Radcliffe Borough 2–0 to pick up their fifth trophy in the three years since their formation.[25] The club finished the season second in the league, trailing champions Bradford Park Avenue by just one point, and entered the play-offs for the other promotion place. After beating Bamber Bridge 3–2 in the semi-finals, F.C. United faced Skelmersdale United in the promotion play-off final on 3 May 2008, coming back from a goal down to win 4–1 and earn promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division.[26]

F.C. United players challenge a Mickleover Sports player for possession of the ball while a crowd of supporters watch from the far end of the pitch near the Mickleover goal.
F.C. United (in white) playing away against Mickleover Sports, October 2010

Northern Premier League Premier Division[edit]

In 2008–09 F.C. United were beaten in their second FA Cup campaign in the First Qualifying Round away at Nantwich Town.[27] They were also knocked out of the FA Trophy by Boston United in the Third Qualifying Round.[28] F.C. United narrowly missed out on a play-off place in their first year in the Northern Premier League Premier Division. Before the final match of the season, they were level on points with Bradford Park Avenue and Kendal Town, with superior goal difference. When ten minutes remained in their match against Bradford, they would have secured a play-off place, but an equaliser for Bradford, and a winning goal for Kendal in their match granted Kendal the place instead.

In F.C. United's second season (2009–10) in the Northern Premier League Premier Division they finished 13th, their lowest league position in their first five seasons.[13] In their third FA Cup campaign they lost 3–0 to Northwich Victoria in the Fourth Qualifying Round.[29] They reached the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy but then went out to Harrogate Town.[30]

In the 2010–11 season F.C. United achieved their best FA Cup campaign, recording victories over Radcliffe Borough, Gainsborough Trinity, Norton & Stockton Ancients and Barrow to reach the First Round Proper for the first time. There they beat League One side Rochdale 3–2 with a late winner from Mike Norton.[31] In the Second Round Proper they played eventual 2010–11 League One champions Brighton & Hove Albion and forced a replay with a 1–1 draw. Brighton denied United a Third Round home tie against Portsmouth by winning the replay 4–0 at Gigg Lane,[32] in front of F.C. United's highest home attendance of 6,731.[33] Meanwhile, in the league, poor form and postponed matches had seen them fall to 21st at the turn of the New Year; in the relegation zone. However, January saw F.C. United climb back up the table and from February they sustained an unbeaten run of 16 games which brought them up to 3rd place; in the play-off places.[13] At the end of the season they secured 4th place, their highest ever placing in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, and secured a play-off semi-final tie against 3rd placed, Bradford Park Avenue,[34] which F.C. United won 2–0 to book their place in the final against Colwyn Bay.[35] In the final, they lost 1–0, denying them a place in the Conference North.[36]

During F.C. United's 2011–12 season they reached the First Round of the FA Trophy for the first time after knocking out Frickley Athletic, Durham City and Altrincham.[37][38] However, they failed to get to the Second Round as they were beaten 2–0 by Guiseley.[39] In the league, F.C. United qualified for the end of season play-offs, despite finishing 6th, due to the demotion of Northwich Victoria for the breaching of financial rules.[40][41] They beat Chorley 2–0 in the play-off semi-final to qualify for consecutive play-off finals.[42] In the final, F.C. United lost 1–0 to Bradford Park Avenue in the penultimate minute of extra time.[43]

F.C. United finished third in the 2012–13 season to book a place in the play-offs for a third successive year.[44] They defeated Witton Albion 3–1 in the semi-final,[45] but lost 2–1 to Hednesford Town in the final.[46] The following season, the club finished second but lost in the play-offs in the semi-finals.[47]

League and Cup history[edit]

Note – a more detailed version of this table can be found at – History of F.C. United of Manchester#League and cup history

FC United of Manchester League and Cup history[48]
Season Division Level Position Average league att. Leading league scorer FA Cup FA Trophy FA Vase
North West Counties Football League Division Two
Rory Patterson – 18
North West Counties Football League Division One
Stuart Rudd – 38
3rd Round
Northern Premier League Division One North
Rory Patterson – 34
1st Qualifying Round
Preliminary Round
Northern Premier League Premier Division
Kyle Wilson – 21
1st Qualifying Round
3rd Round Qualifying
Northern Premier League Premier Division
Phil Marsh – 10
4th Qualifying Round
3rd Round Qualifying
Northern Premier League Premier Division
Michael Norton – 24
2nd Round
3rd Round Qualifying
Northern Premier League Premier Division
Matthew Wolfenden – 20
2nd Qualifying Round
1st Round
Northern Premier League Premier Division
Matthew Wolfenden – 19
4th Qualifying Round
2nd Qualifying Round
Northern Premier League Premier Division
Tom Greaves – 34
1st Qualifying Round
1st Qualifying Round
Northern Premier League Premier Division
2nd Qualifying Round
4th Round

Colours and badge[edit]

Gules, three bendlets enhanced Or; a chief argent, thereon on waves of the sea a ship under sail proper. On a wreath of colours, a terrestrial globe semée of bees volant, all proper. On the dexter side a heraldic antelope argent, attired, and chain reflexed over the back Or, and on the sinister side a lion guardant Or, murally crowned Gules; each charged on the shoulder with a rose of the last. Motto: "Concilio et Labore".
F.C. United of Manchester's badge is based on the coat of arms of Manchester City Council.

F.C. United's club colours are red, white and black—the same colours worn by Manchester United.[49] However, the shirt bears no sponsorship logo, as it was written into the club's constitution that the club should not have a shirt sponsor.[50] Despite this, the club is sponsored as a whole by mxData, a mobile application developer.[50] The club's first kit was a plain red shirt, white shorts and plain black socks.[51] The club introduced a new home shirt for the 2007–08 season with a striped collar and striped ends on the sleeves which lasted until 2009.[52] This was changed for the 2009–11 seasons to a red shirt with a black and white stripe down the left side, manufactured by Admiral Sportswear.[53] However, for seasons 2011–13 the club has reverted to a plain red shirt, manufactured by O'Neills.[49] The club's second kit, worn when playing away against a team with a predominantly red kit, is a white shirt with a red diagonal sash, with white shorts and socks.[54] The club also has an alternative plain blue kit for playing against a team with a red and white kit.[55] In past seasons a white shirt with a diagonal black stripe[51] and white shirt with a red trim, black shorts and white socks have been used as the second kits.[56]

The club's badge is red, white, black and yellow, and incorporates elements from the Coat of Arms of Manchester City Council: a ship representing Manchester's industry, and three stripes representing the three rivers that flow through Manchester.[57]


Bury's blue stadium seated stand covered in red, white and black F.C. United banners.
Gigg Lane decorated with F.C. United flags and banners.

Since the club's formation, F.C. United have not had their own home ground. Instead, they ground-share Gigg Lane with Bury F.C. However, as a result of some fixture clashes, F.C. United have had to use a further six stadia for home fixtures; Altrincham's Moss Lane in 2005–06,[58] Radcliffe Borough's Stainton Park in 2007–08,[59] Hyde United's Ewen Fields in 2009–10,[60] Stalybridge Celtic's Bower Fold in 2010–11, 2011–12 and 2012–13[61][62] and Curzon Ashton's Tameside Stadium in 2011–12 and 2014–15.[63] A Manchester Premier Cup tie at home to Flixton was switched to Flixton's Valley Road ground in 2008 making it technically F.C. United's seventh home ground.[64]

In March 2010, the club announced plans to build their own 5,000-capacity football ground in Newton Heath, the original home of Manchester United.[65] The development was planned to be located on the site of the current Ten Acres Lane sports centre and would have cost £3.5 million, to be financed by public donations, a Community Shares issue and grant funding.[66] However a year later, in March 2011, Manchester City Council backed out from funding the stadium, but that they had pledged to help F.C. United build a stadium in a new location with reduced costs.[67] In April 2011 it was revealed that F.C. United were considering a new site in the Broadhurst Park area of Moston, Manchester.[68] Detailed information about the new facility, including the tentative name Moston Community Stadium, was released in June 2011.[69] Manchester City Council approved the planning permission for the Moston site on 27 October 2011.[70] F.C. United had to overcome some obstacles including funding agreements, contractor and lease negotiations and a legal challenge from local residents which caused a further two-year delay before building commenced in November 2013.

For the 2014–15 season, F.C. United ended their groundsharing agreement with Bury after nine seasons in preparation for their move to Broadhurst Park. With the ground not ready at the start of the season, they began with Bower Fold as a temporary home. Due to fixture clashes with Stalybridge Celtic, the Northern Premier League agreed in December for another switch to Curzon Ashton's Tameside Stadium until Broadhurst Park is granted a safety certificate.[71][72]


As F.C. United is owned by its supporters, each member can vote on how the club is run, including: voting for board members; designs; and season ticket prices.[73][74] Most F.C. United supporters still support Manchester United and many were previously season ticket holders at Old Trafford.[75] F.C. United fans are known for the large range of songs that they sing at matches, and the atmosphere created by fans has been praised in the media.[76][77][78][79]

During their first season (2005–06), F.C. United had the second-highest average attendance in English non-League football with an average gate of 3,059, and were the 87th best supported club across all divisions.[80] Attendances fell in the next two seasons and they were the 92nd best supported club in 2006–07 and 100th best supported club by 2007–08.[81][82] Their average league attendance has since levelled out at approximately 2,000 per game.[83]


F.C. United is an Industrial and provident society. Membership is obtained by paying an annual fee of £12 to the club (£3 for children) but each member receives only one share in the club and is entitled to a single vote at meetings, regardless of the amount donated.[84][85] The board consists of 11 members who are elected by the members of the club.[86] The club has two full-time employee positions: Andy Walsh as chief executive and Lindsey Howard as club secretary. Andy Walsh was heavily involved in the club's formation.[87]

The club's manifesto includes the following core principles:[84]

  1. The Board will be democratically elected by its members
  2. Decisions taken by the membership will be decided on a one member, one vote basis
  3. The club will develop strong links with the local community and strive to be accessible to all, discriminating against none
  4. The club will endeavour to make admission prices as affordable as possible, to as wide a constituency as possible
  5. The club will encourage young, local participation—playing and supporting—whenever possible
  6. The Board will strive wherever possible to avoid outright commercialism
  7. The club will remain a non-profit organisation

The club accepts sponsorship but does not allow sponsors' logos to be displayed on the team's shirts.[50] The club's main sponsor in its inaugural 2005–06 season was the Bhopal Medical Appeal and in season 2006–07 it was the Williams BMW Group.[88][89] From the 2011–12 season onwards, F.C. United is sponsored by mxData.[50]

Future aspirations[edit]

Partway into their second season at their Annual General Meeting in November 2006, the club outlined aspirations for the next six years:[90]

  • winning promotion in three successive seasons to take them to Conference North by 2009
  • reaching an average of 5,000 supporters per home game by 2009
  • building their own 7,000–10,000 capacity stadium, as close to the centre of Greater Manchester as possible, by 2012
  • developing their own training facilities by 2009

Their aspirations have had mixed results. The club did achieve two successive promotions after the AGM, but have remained in the Northern Premier League Premier Division since 2008 missing out on their Conference North target. Rather than fulfilling the aim of 5,000 supporters per home game, crowds have declined in all but one of their seasons so far. Progress was being made on plans to develop their own stadium, until funding was cut in early 2011.[91] After this setback, the club is pressing ahead with plans to build a 5,000 capacity stadium in the Moston area of north Manchester in time for the 2013–14 season.[68] They have teamed up with The Manchester College for use of their training facilities,[92][93] and have entered a women's team into the Greater Manchester Women's Football League for the 2012–13 season.[94][95]


F.C. United and its founders have been both criticised and supported by fans of Manchester United and the media, with some fans viewing those who chose to leave to follow F.C. United as "traitors".[96][97][98] Notably, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson questioned the loyalty of fans who decided to form the club and the motivation behind the forming of F.C. United in a 2006 book:[99]

I'm sorry about that. It is a bit sad, that part, but I wonder just how big a United supporter they are. They seem to me to be promoting or projecting themselves a wee bit rather than saying, "at the end of the day the club have made a decision, we'll stick by them. It's more about them than us.

—Sir Alex Ferguson, The Official Manchester United Diary of the Season (2006)


First team squad[edit]

Eight F.C. United players at the edge of the penalty box after a game. Six of the players are clapping the fans.
F.C. United players thanking fans for their support.
As of 18 November 2014.[100]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
England GK David Carnell
England GK Nick Culkin
England DF Luke Ashworth
England DF Liam Brownhill
England DF Shaun Connor
England DF James Knowles
England DF Lewis Lacy
England DF Chris Lynch
England DF Andy Pearson
England DF Dean Stott
England MF Dave Birch
England MF Michael Brewster
England MF Thomas Brown
England MF Callum Byrne
No. Position Player
England MF Scott Cheetham
England MF Joe Fox
England MF Dean Hope
England MF John Pritchard
England MF Andy Welsh
England MF Jerome Wright
England FW Connor Bower
England FW Greg Daniels
England FW Tom Greaves
England FW Craig Lindfield
England FW Mike Norton
England FW Frank van Gils
England FW Matthew Walwyn
England FW Matthew Wolfenden

Former players[edit]

See Category:F.C. United of Manchester players to see a list of notable F.C. United players, past and present.

International representation[edit]

In the short time since F.C. United were formed, they have already assisted in providing players on the international football scene. The efforts of F.C. United's all-time record goal-scorer Rory Patterson attracted the attention of several professional clubs, and the striker has gone on to play and score for Northern Ireland at senior level.[101] F.C. United's youth team have also been represented in the England Schoolboys squad by Scott Cheetham.[102] In 2013, F.C. United signed Pakistan international Amjad Iqbal from Bradford Park Avenue.[103]

Coaching staff[edit]

Karl Marginson, F.C. United's manager, stands at the side of a football pitch watching the game.
Karl Marginson has been the manager of F.C. United since its formation

The club's coaching staff are as follows:[100]

Name Role
England Karl Marginson Manager
England Darren Lyons Head of Player Development
England David Brown First team coach
Wales Rhodri Giggs Reserve team manager
England Richard Brown Reserve team coach
Nigeria Chuks Akuneto Academy Coach
England Michael Norton Kit-man
England Mark Cooney Physiotherapist
England Sam Rhoades Physiotherapist


F.C. United have won two league titles and two league cups in their short history.[104]

F.C. United players gather around the North West Counties League Division Two Trophy while fans take pictures.
F.C. United were crowned champions of the North West Counties Football League Division Two in their inaugural season (2005–06).


The club as a whole has won awards for its supporter-run model:[104]

  • Co-operative Excellence Award
    • Winners 2009
  • Non-league Club of the Year
    • Winners 2006
  • BBC North West Sports Awards
    • Newcomer of the year 2006
  • Football Foundation Community Club of the Year
    • Winners 2012
  • #coops2012 Award


Team records[edit]

Records for the team as a whole:[106]

Individual records[edit]

Rory Patterson in red F.C. United home kit playing on pitch, in front of brick buildings.
Rory Patterson is F.C. United's all-time highest goal-scorer with 86 league goals.

All records correct as of 12 November 2014 during the 2014–15 season, league matches only:[110]

  • Most league appearances:
    • 253 – Jerome Wright
  • Most league goals:
    • 86 – Rory Patterson
  • Most red cards in F.C. United career:
    • 4 – Ben Deegan
  • Most yellow cards in F.C. United career:
    • 40 – Jerome Wright
  • Most goals scored in a match:

Women's team[edit]

The women's team competed for the first time in the 2012–13 season. They finished second in the Greater Manchester Women's Football League behind Manchester City Ladies. They also reached the GMWFL League Cup Final but lost 1–0 to Manchester City Ladies.

See also[edit]


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Other references

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°29′35.06″N 2°6′56.19″W / 53.4930722°N 2.1156083°W / 53.4930722; -2.1156083