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Discussion in 'General football forum' started by Mayor West, 21 Apr 2015.
I'm sure David Conn is doing a piece on the Moston Rag Socks as I write this....
Altered for accuracy :)
How can they do that to the people.
Power, corruption and pies.....
Agree with this. It's an appalling set of figures and you have to ask serious questions of those who were responsible for awarding the club public money.
The rationale behind those grants is that they'll enable facilities to be built which will be available for community use, meaning that the Council, in the long term, saves money that it would otherwise spend on community facilities. It's similar to the logic behind the funding of the conversion of heavy rail lines to Metrolink lines. The heavy rail services are subsidised but Metrolink isn't, so ultimately the public purse benefits from no longer having to pay the subsidies.
This is all very well, but when you're talking about the provision of a service to the public, then the public suffers if the organisation entrusted with the task isn't competent to carry it out. These latest figures show that the management of FC United has clearly been dysfunctional, meaning that the club simply isn't fit to receive grants of public money because it can't be relied on to have the competence to perform the obligations it's undertaken. Worse, if it goes bust (and that must be regarded as a real danger), the Council will either have to fund the community facilities it's already paid towards or those facilities will be non-operational, so the grant will have been completely wasted.
The thing is, this shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone. They've posted poor financial figures in the past, and the club's claim that everything would be rosy when they had their own ground has been shown up as bollocks. As for their competence to operate community programmes, I'll cite the view a friend of mine who's an expert in the field and who, three or four years ago, spoke at a conference at which FC United representatives also gave a presentation. My friend credited the speakers with being sincere in their desire to create a high-quality community programme, but regarded them as basically naive to the point of cluelessness in terms of how to achieve that goal.
But then the City Council's desire to find FC United a ground within the Manchester boundaries was always about politics rather than logic. MCC has always been aggrieved that it derives limited benefit from the global renown of Manchester United because that club is located in Trafford and Gary James has, in the past, written about attempts to get United to use Eastlands before the deal was done for City to play there. Given that the real United aren't going to move any time soon, these fakes were seen as the next best option.
Can't recall the source, but I've either read or been told that Pat Karney was the prime mover behind their relocation to the city. He, or whoever else was involved, really should be held to account for that. But I have no faith that this will happen.
Fantastically put as per usual Peter. So to be blunt, they needed extra funding from the stadium and blagged that money from the council while peddling what was essentially a pack of lies in terms of future returns. Someone at the council either fell for it or was aware all along that the projections were totally unrealistic but still decided to come up with the funding anyway. As such, that someone should get a rocket up their arse for signing it off, especially as it was during a period of austerity when the council were making serious cutbacks to staff and services.
Is that a fair enough summary? ;)
Thanks. You're pretty well there with the summary, though 'pack of lies' probably isn't a phrase I'd use. I'd go with something like 'significant overestimate of their capability to deliver' or something like that. ;)
My contention is that FC United have never really lived in the real world. They're a club with no identity of its own, but one they leech off a different club. And that identity is by a long way the biggest thing they have going for them. The size of the crowds they get, the favourable press and the sympathetic reception from local politicians is, in my view, down to the fact that they have Manchester United in their name and play in a kit with exactly the same highly distinctive colour combination. So basically what they are is a cheap rip-off brand that's prospered because they exploit the identity of one of the world's biggest and most famous football clubs.
When this venture started, I wondered whether proper United might take legal action to try and stop FC United from using a name and branding that was to close to the genuine club's own. They evidently decided not to, I presume because they wanted to show lofty disdain and feared that battling the minnows would somehow give them credibility or win them sympathy. But does anyone really think that with a less up-front MUFC connection (if, say, as a less overt nod to the heritage of MUFC, they played as Newton Heath with a green and gold kit), they'd have gained the same attention or support? I don't, not for a minute. They've gained the attention and support because some people see them as a way to be faithful to the spirit of Manchester United while dissociating themselves from the excesses of modern football, but really they're the footballing equivalent of a second-rate tribute band.
That's why, even when things looked a lot rosier for them, I've never held with the gushing praise they earn from the likes of David Conn when he used to hold them up as "the success story that proves what fans can achieve" (see his piece from just over 18 months ago here: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2015/may/26/fc-united-manchester-benfica-united-fans). To me, all the successes he outlined are simply a result of exploiting a different club's identity. I don't think there's another English club other than United whose identity could be exploited in the same way with the same success, so it's ridiculous to hold them up as an example for the rest of football, IMO. But even if a bunch of City fans could realistically aspire to emulate them, I'd think any attempt to do so tawdry and somewhat fraudulent.
This is relevant because I believe that the nature of FC United and the positive media reception they've had down the years basically went to the heads of the people then running the club. The size of the support they won on the back of the Manchester United identity made it very easy for them to sail up the leagues ahead of opponents who attract tiny gates. Puff pieces in the press, I suspect, boosted their egos and gave them absolute faith in their ability to steer the ship. Their profile gave them a political clout to create opportnities that are almost always closed off to clubs of a similar size.
But they were never really confronted by the need to face reality. They made great play of their principles, and very laudable principles they were too. Ownership by and investment from the fans, not single powerful individuals or companies. Pay what you can afford to attend matches. Pay the staff a proper wage. Run a community programme. And so it goes on. But unfortunately, there's an overriding need to match spending and earning. And sometimes hard choices have to be made, a fact that seems to have been forgotten by Walsh and his mates among all the posturing about their ethics.
Great replies above
The thing with Andy Walsh is he began to believe the club was his.... he was untouchable and could walk on water.... he travelled the country attending breakfast meetings spewing the same rhetoric - meeting in, meeting out. He repeated himself so many times he actually began to believe it! And who was running the club when he was having free breakfasts around the country? (and more to the point, the club was paying his travel and wages!). Andy Walsh stopped promoting FCUM and began promoting himself....
With the new stadium, fans who had expertise in building, catering, finances, event planning and more all offered their experience and support - but Walsh turned them all away as he knew best and wanted full control of everything when having experience in nothing. And because he had the backing of the faithful they went along with him until one by one, the penny started to drop that here was a man leading the club to oblivion under a regime of nepotism among friends. The very man who spent 10 years of his life building the club up is the very man who has taken it to an inch of its death. Why would someone do that?
One member one vote? All members are equal, but some were more equal than others......
Yes, I think Walsh enjoyed all the publicity about the club offering something new that was a contrast to the sterile, corporate and overhyped nature of top-flight English football and him being the key man in that. And because the fanbase basically believed that as well, any criticism of him came from lone voices until far later than really should have been the case.
The more I read about Walsh's role in creating the current situation, the more I think of him as an FC United version of Swales. Sure, a different background and contrasting rhetoric, but there are very similar behaviour patterns: pursuing a rather, ahem, cavalier financial strategy; treating the club like his own personal fiefdom and bestowing favours on his mates; using his position for self-promotion (for Walsh, as above, while for Swales this involved his media appearances and FA role); and clinging to power like a limpet even as the shit really hit the fan.
This is anecdotal so don't treat it as gospel, but I knew someone who had good knowledge of the Council's dealings with FC United over the stadium. I was told that the club took the attitude that it was a community club and the Council thus had a duty to give it support (a position some in MCC also seem to have been willing to adopt). There seemed no genuine recognition (beyond paying lip service and ) of the fact that we were in a time of austerity and budgets were being cut across the board, so maybe FC should show why the community would be better off if MCC grant funding, a council loan and a stadium site were to be diverted their way rather than spent on other things. If true, that kind of attitude usually comes from the top. I can well imagine that he genuinely believed it, but I don't believe that MCC asked all the questions they should have done.
Albeit a 'community' club and by association an asset, which effectively alienated at least half of the community by its branding.