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FC United hits £1.6m shares target

Fan-owned football club FC United of Manchester has beat its target of raising £1.6 million through a community share issue to help fund the development of a new stadium in North Manchester.

The club, which was launched by Manchester United fans in protest at the Glazer family's 2005 takeover, wants to build a 5,000-seater stadium in Moston, near Newton Heath, along with a community clubhouse and function room, catering facilities, changing rooms and a classroom.

The proposed scheme, which is being developed with local youth side Moston Juniors, would also include an artificial pitch and would retain two existing grass pitches.

Under the community shares initiative, fans were offered a minimum share purchase of £200. The issue was approved by the HMRC Enterprise Investment Scheme, allowing individuals to claim take relief on up to 30 per cent of the amount they purchased, subject to personal circumstances.

In a statement, the club said that hitting the £1.6 million target will help it to unlock the grant funding necessary to meet the £4.6 million cost of the stadium project and enable building work to start on site in the spring.

FC United general manager, Andy Walsh, said, "Reaching our £1.6 million target from the share issue is a fantastic achievement, especially in the current economic climate. We believe this is the largest amount ever raised by football supporters independently. Raising capital through community shares is a unique development in English football and has been recognised as offering a real alternative to the way football is run and financed.

"Our shareholders all have just one vote regardless of the number of shares they hold, preserving the common ownership of the club. Community shares give tangible way for fans to raise significant sums of money whilst preserving the football club as a community asset. We believe community shares is the preferable way of raising finance to borrowing from banks and more sustainable than relying on wealthy individuals who may not always have the best interests of the club at heart.

"Our groundbreaking development will create a positive and lasting legacy in Moston, creating new sports and non-sports facilities for the area for generations to come."

FC United spokesman Andy Walker told EN that the club is open to investment from businesses as well as individual supporters, whether they are cooperatives or private firms.

"We have had a number of small business investors and would welcome others that share our vision for community football," he said.

"[We are] especially keen to hear from companies looking to work in partnership to deliver community benefits."

By Andy Jowett

FC United hits £1.6m shares target
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