The lure of Newton Heath

I have been in the Wheatsheaf pub in Manchester, listening to the plans of FC United (one of our members) to develop a football ground in Newton Heath, location of the original club behind Manchester United. FC United got going when fans got fed up with its takeover by the Glaziers.

The aim is to raise over £3m in community shares and the cooperative club is one the pioneers of a new model of this kind of community capitalism (a term coined by Ron Gryzinsky, founder of South Shore Bank in the USA). The community shares programme, to fill in this story, is one we have pioneered recently with the Development Trust Association.

It is an inspiring story and an ambitious one. The media have tended to be slow on the uptake on all of this, with plenty on football scandals but less on the alternatives, so it is nice finally to see a big splash in the Guardian today by David Conn. As I have blogged before, our survey with Supporters Direct shows that a majority of fans who express a view want their club to be owned co-operatively by the fans.

A comment that captures the spirit of Newton Heath is from the manager, who responds to one question by saying that “sport is about winning, but it is also about community.”

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