Football fans respond to community need
In this blog, Robin Pye tells us about FC United and why they are welcoming Power to Change.
FC United started out as a wild dream. We wanted to challenge the issues in modern football and bring the game back to its fans, but would a fan-owned club for Manchester United fans work? Would anybody come? Well they did come, a new club was formed, the team rose up the leagues and next season we will at last play in our own ground in Moston, Manchester.
FC United challenges the accepted economics of football. In our fifth season, with the credit crunch affecting many of our members, we decided we would let our fans tell us what they could afford to pay for their season tickets. As a result, the amount we received per season ticket actually went up.
The stadium we are moving into is being paid for in part by a community share issue of £1.8million and a further £230,000 raised by fans through other fund raising activities. It’s amazing what people will contribute if they know that what they are investing in is secured for them, for their community and for future generations.
Roughly a quarter of our annual turnover is made up of our award-winning community and education programme which we deliver as a social enterprise. We work with children, young people, vulnerable people, unemployed people and older people suffering from social isolation. All our work is underpinned by the same values that are embodied by our football team, an insistence on inclusion and believing we can succeed.
And this work is only made possible by three things;
- The willingness of so many of our members to support our community work on a voluntary basis because they want to support our club and the values we represent.
- The trust placed in us by community organisations and public bodies which is engendered by the way in which we are run.
- Our willingness to take risks because we have faith that we can work together to overcome problems as they arise.
When I went to the launch of the Big Lottery Fund’s Power to Change initiative, I wasn’t sure exactly what it was about or why we had been invited. As I talked to more and more of the other organisations there I realised that among all the diversity represented at the event there was a common thread. What we all had in common was that we had affected change in our communities by coming together to take on risks we could not possibly have faced as individuals.
The power to change lies in our willingness to come together and work together. We wish the Big Lottery Fund’s initiative every success.