I’m sure regular vistors to this column know my eyes are dyed red when it comes to footie. I have been supporting Manchester United since 1956. Equally, those same regulars will recognise that I’m a dedicated mutualist who believes that one community is worth a trillion notes of fiat currency.
So at the end of the day, it gives me great delight this evening to combine both religions in one post.
I cannot better this extract from Telegraph Sport correspondent Jim White’s column:
‘On May 12 it will be 10 years since Malcolm Glazer completed his hostile takeover of Manchester United, loading the business as he did so with the biggest debt in football history. At that moment, a group of United supporters turned their backs on the club they had long followed and decided to establish one of their own. FC United of Manchester they called it, a name now written large across the front of the main stand at Broadhurst Park, the club’s new home.’
I suspect Mr White is far too polite to point out that the name chosen by this breakaway group forms the acronym ‘Fuck ’em’, but that is exactly what it does. FC United of Manchester is an example to all those sofa-bound Jonahs who say “there’s nothing we can do”. For in 2005, the proud owners of this new venture (the supporters) decided to form a new club with the avowed intention of winding up bettering the best supported – and one of the richest – soccer clubs on the planet.
Just what made that silly old ram/think he’d break the boulder dam/anyone know no ram can/burst a boulder dam/but he had high hopes…he had high hopes
The Roy of the Rovers fairy tale that followed is almost beyond belief; but it should give hope to all those who think the empire they face is unassailable. For the FC United of Manchester is a microcosm of resistance to the neoliberal nightmare of which footie is just one small dimension.
FC United of Manchester is owned mutually by its 4,000-plus members. Its decision-making processes are entirely democratic, and any profit made is ploughed 100% back into operations and player investment. In its brand-spanking new stadium in unfashionable Moston, there are no corporate hospitality boxes, no executive lounges, and no boardroom: visiting directors are entertained in an area of the main stand that for the rest of the week serves as a community classroom.
Nice idea but where’s the achievement? Here it is: ten years on, FC United is a club zooming up the minor league tables. After 10 years in the lower leagues, it’s leading the Evostick Northern Premier League with only three games to play. Two more victories will almost certainly earn them the title and lift the club into the Conference North. From there they will be just two promotions from League Two. FC United of Manchester are now five seasons away from the Premiership, and a place in European football.
But even when that dream is fulfilled, you can be sure that Fuck ’em will not sell out. Even if they have to enter the Champions’ League with a squad that cost no more than the signing-on fees, FC United will continue a tradition which has been a part of my life for sixty years.
I will always watch for MUFC results, because no other club in the history of soccer has the emotional magnet of mine. On 6th February 1958, Manchester United’s plane crashed on take-off from Munich Airport, killing 9 of the team’s 1st XI. Some of my Dad’s close friends also died, including the cloth merchant Willie Satinoff and Club Secretary Walter Crickmer.
From then on until 1968, the only thing that mattered to my club – my club – was to win the European Cup….a tournament built on sporting glory that the munneee later twisted into the perverted shape of the Champions’ League. Perhaps we might see this as a parallel for the horrible morphing of the European Community into the EU.
Fittingly, United won the old and glorious European Cup at Wembley in 1968, beating the much-fancied Benfica 4-1.
The arrival on the Old Trafford scene of the failed cryogenic experiment aka Glazer Family destroyed everything my Manchester United had stood for: these Yankee carpet-baggers swamped the Reds in debt, and rendered the club just another bonkers multinational living beyond its means and at arm’s length from its loyalist supporters.
One day – I can dream, I can dream – mutualist crowd-sourced money will see FCUM in a reverse takeover of an MUFC bankrupted by neoliberal globalist funny-money. Only in that moment will I sense that the age of madness is over.
But for tonight, I say only that I am in awe of the what the heroes of 2005 have achieved: the ghost of Matt Busby is with you, and no mistake.