Ten bob….
July 23, 2015 – 6:08 pm | No Comment | by:

By Jonathan Allsop
Squirrelled away in various boxes in our flat are, aside from books and music, some of my most treasured possessions. Football programmes. Hundreds of them. David Goldblatt in his excellent book The Game …

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Ten bob…. by:
July 23, 2015 – 6:08 pm | No Comment

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By Jonathan Allsop

Squirrelled away in various boxes in our flat are, aside from books and music, some of my most treasured possessions. Football programmes. Hundreds of them. David Goldblatt in his excellent book The Game of Our Lives reckons that “football programmes are among the most prized of football memorabilia” and he’s spot on.

When I started going to watch United in the late seventies I fell in love with programmes and for the next decade and a half built up a sizeable collection. Looking back through them now triggers some great (and not so great) memories of my formative match going years.

There’s the slightly faded programme from my first match in 1977 when a Jimmy Greenhoff hat trick made my eighth birthday a very happy one. The “Welcome to Old Trafford” header on the front is resonant of simpler match going times. There’s the larger, thicker programmes from trips to Wembley for cup finals and Charity Shields. There’s Fergie’s first home game. The 5-1. Rotterdam. Anfield in 1992. Blackburn Rovers on that giddy night in May 1993. And then the programmes peter out. As they became glossier and the content increasingly embraced the bland, corporate-logoed world of the Premier League and insulted our intelligence I lost interest and stopped buying them.

There’s still the occasional one from the mid to late nineties. The majestic Miro-esque front cover from Barcelona stands out. And there’s the one from that scintillating 8-1 win at Forest in the treble season which I’d bought from the City Ground shop after the match as a memento of one of the ridiculous number of high points from that season. But for the next decade or so the fanzines United We Stand and Red Issue were my only match day reading material.

Until 2005 that is when I began buying a programme again. At first it was mainly about making a financial contribution to FC United of Manchester on a match day but in recent years it’s been because the programme has been such a bloody good read. I hope it’s not too daft or soppy of me in these hard-nosed, entrepreneurial times to say that the FC United programme has rekindled my love of football programmes.

Whether it’s Margy enthusing about the “twelfth man”, one of the players telling us about their life outside football or reading about one of the many volunteers who make FC United the club that it is the programme is always informative and entertaining.

In addition, regular features on fellow supporter owned clubs at home and abroad and campaigns beyond the pitch such as Football Versus Homophobia are written with a passion that is so often missing from programmes of any sort these days. There’s even room for the occasional opinion piece that exercises the grey matter or provokes complaints to the club. But far rather complaints and debate than some bland, inoffensive, corporate magazine like the ones you often see on trains sitting unloved and unread at the end of each carriage.

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Perhaps most impressively in its style and content the programme has maintained the all important bloodline back to the fanzines which played such a crucial role in the formation of the club. It must be tricky from an editorial perspective to strike the correct balance between official-ness and irreverence but the programme invariably does it beautifully. All for two quid. It’s even won awards and stuff. But not in a “look at us, aren’t we brilliant” sort of way, more a quietly sussed, getting on with things, Mancunian kind of way.

On a Friday evening in May for FC United’s historic first match at Broadhurst Park, with Benfica the visitors, the programme perhaps hit its peak. There were more pages and a slightly bigger format. Flicking through it warmed the cockles. The memories of the 1968 European Cup Final. An introduction to Broadhurst Park. Adam Brown talking about the trials and tribulations of the ten year quest for our own ground. And Stuart Maconie off the wireless describing his admiration for FC. Not to mention the usual brilliant photography. It was lovely and befitting of a momentous night for the club.

But instead of the two quid that the programme had been since day one an extra fifty pence had been added to the price. Increased production costs were sighted as the reason for the price increase. Fair enough I thought and bought two copies on the night, including one for a Liverpool supporting mate who’s never been to an FC match but admires our punk football ethos. I thought nothing more of it.

That the club might be trying to screw an extra few quid out of its support did not cross my mind for one second. We do things differently at FC. And besides, our club manifesto reaffirms our principled rejection of “outright commercialism”.

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However, you didn’t need to be Steph McGovern off BBC Breakfast to realise that with a sell-out crowd of more than four thousand for the first match at Broadhurst Park and many fans eager for a “souvenir” the programme sellers would be in for a busy evening. Unlike, say, Barwell on a Tuesday night in December.

In fact so much so that if you were to knock out a quick spreadsheet the average cost per programme sold might possibly be the lowest of the season. So, if production costs hadn’t increased, why the need to charge any more than usual?

Would it not have been lovely, and in the true spirit of this football club, after a season when supporters have made one last big financial effort to get us into our new ground – community shares, pound for the ground draw tickets, standing orders for the development fund, loan stock, crowd funding to kit out the ground, sponsored walks and runs etc – to produce a programme for the Benfica game that was the same price as the one for the first home game against Padiham way back in August 2005? That would truly have been doing things differently.

The financial whizz kids can talk about “revenue streams” and “profit margins” and how the club can’t survive on fresh air. We know that, we’re not daft and we appreciate that the club has to work within its means. But there is a time and a place for the financial smooth talk that doesn’t offend people or treat them as mere consumers.

As an NHS bean counter for nearly twenty five years I am all too depressingly familiar with the difficulty of trying to apply business economics to something like healthcare that should be free of all concerns about profit and revenue maximisation. Despite the monstrous “internal market” and the illusion of “patient choice” NHS patients are not customers. And the same applies to football; supporters should not be treated as passive consumers to be squeezed for a few quid more when the time feels right to go chasing profit.

There’s an accounting concept called “goodwill” which us accountants often find difficult to put a financial value on. When the price of the Benfica programme was arbitrarily inflated to £2.50 I reckon we risked pulling the plug on the huge reservoir of goodwill that’s built up at FC United over the last decade. That’s a shame.

In addition to the blatant disregard shown for one of the club’s founding principles, the club’s Twitter account running tacky adverts for a multi-national company and contriving to lose the editor of the club’s award winning programme it’s been a discombobulating summer for the Northern Premier League champions.

For me, the last few weeks have been even more dispiriting than the sight of so many Labour MPs abstaining in the recent parliamentary vote on the Tories’ £12 billion cuts to welfare. We’ve become used to being disappointed by the Labour Party. From FC United of Manchester, its General Manager and democratically elected Board, we expect better. I hope that ten bob doesn’t end up costing our football club a hell of a lot more.

Debt, Democracy, Disillusion
July 10, 2015 – 10:29 pm | No Comment | by:
Debt, Democracy, Disillusion

So the bloody lazy Greeks expect us hardworking northern Europeans to pay for their lavish lifestyles? Well let me tell you, a debt is a debt and that has to come first. There’s nothing more …

Have your say at supporters’ summit
July 2, 2015 – 12:41 pm | No Comment | by:
Have your say at supporters’ summit

The Supporters Summit takes place in Manchester (Mercure Hotel, Piccadilly) on Saturday 18th July 2015 (10am-4.45pm), organised by the Football Supporters’ Federation and Supporters Direct.
The free event attracts fans from across the UK who …

Our house
June 10, 2015 – 10:23 pm | No Comment | by:
Our house

This match in terms of football was an irrelevance. It was nice Benfica wanted to play us, it was nice some of their fans turned up (and delivered a decent pyro show), and it was …

FC United – the journey home
June 8, 2015 – 9:38 am | No Comment | by:
FC United – the journey home

By Jonathan Allsopp
I reckon Odysseus had it relatively easy. Okay it took the Greek ruler and hero of Homer’s Odyssey ten years to return to his Ithaca home following the Trojan war, battling various cannibals, …

Just another day at the football
May 11, 2015 – 3:44 pm | 2 Comments | by:
Just another day at the football

He agreed to pick me up and take me to an end of season party affair at Bradford City, who had gained promotion and were set to celebrate against Lincoln that afternoon, writes Fletchermoss.

A really shite post-election United metaphor
May 8, 2015 – 10:25 pm | No Comment | by:
A really shite post-election United metaphor

I was half way up the Holte End and heading towards the exit tunnel when a mate grabbed my arm and pulled me back a couple of steps, sending me off balance. “You’re not fucking going” said the lad stopping me from mardy arsing may way into the Birmingham night.

Once a blue…
May 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm | No Comment | by:
Once a blue…

By Jacamo Red
“Alright Sir? Voting Tory on Thursday? Good man! Take some posters and stick them in the staff room Sir!”
“Alright Miss? Voting Tory on Thursday? Why the hell not! Well have a poster anyway!”
That …

Merry Christmas turkeys
May 8, 2015 – 9:40 pm | No Comment | by:
Merry Christmas turkeys

No doubt we’ll get what we voted for – five more years of the same, with a little bit more thrown on top. So let’s just remind ourselves what that’s going to look like.

Election 2015… Arsed?
May 4, 2015 – 3:52 pm | One Comment | by:
Election 2015… Arsed?

by Divinio
 
 
Five years ago, the 2010 general election saw the constituency of Manchester Central yield the lowest voter turnout in the whole country. With such a diverse range of peoples living within its borders, this …

Leave your politics at the turnstiles
April 28, 2015 – 10:09 am | No Comment | by:
Leave your politics at the turnstiles

Football-wise, supporter owned FC United of Manchester continue to lead the way in demonstrating that football has the power to reach out beyond the pitch and change people’s lives whether it’s unemployed youngsters, kids struggling at school, elderly people living on their own or destitute asylum seekers.

You just haven’t earned it yet baby…
March 17, 2015 – 8:39 pm | No Comment | by:
You just haven’t earned it yet baby…

Twenty three years ago I stood on several away terraces and sung “we’re gonna win the league” with Manchester United seemingly poised to win their first league title in a quarter of a century…

The readies under the bed…
February 20, 2015 – 6:54 pm | No Comment | by:
The readies under the bed…

Thanks to everyone who has contributed in any way. To those who have created and sold the publication, bought it at matches and to those who have bought magazines and T-shirts away from FC United via our stockists Cornerhouse, the National Football Museum, Working Class Movement Library and our online stall (home and away with Stu from the Bay).

A hijacked legacy? Tony Wilson at 65
February 20, 2015 – 12:31 pm | No Comment | by:
A hijacked legacy? Tony Wilson at 65

I have an uneasy feeling that Manchester’s success has been somewhat hi-jacked and, it’s almost as if Tony Wilson has been written out of that history…

Moving the goalposts
February 19, 2015 – 3:13 pm | No Comment | by:
Moving the goalposts

From the official FC United website:
FC United fanzine A Fine Lung has contributed £4,300 to the Development Fund raised through sales of the fanzine and associated merchandise. The donation will contribute toward the costs of …

To Hough End in a Handcart
February 15, 2015 – 3:07 pm | No Comment | by:
To Hough End in a Handcart

Welcome to Brokebackadhurst Mountain
Finally the bombshell we’ve all been waiting for, but hoped would never drop, exploded this week with the news that there is to be a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender supporters branch …

Brit Flop
February 15, 2015 – 1:29 pm | No Comment | by:
Brit Flop

Not long now to the Brit Awards. Feb 25th is the date for your diaries. Excited? Noel Gallagher is. He’s getting himself giddy by saying he’d rather drink petrol straight from the nozzle than listen …

Shake Your Friends Maker
February 10, 2015 – 9:16 pm | No Comment | by:
Shake Your Friends Maker

FC may have gained a whole host of  admirers after their exploits on the south coast this weekend, but our new friends from Torquay aren’t  the only ones. At last season’s game against King’s Lynn, …

Love United Hate What?
January 2, 2015 – 12:20 pm | No Comment | by:
Love United Hate What?

Some things to bear in mind before publicly announcing you think politics have no place in football, courtesy of the excellent Llandudno Jet Set:
The parts of the internet that have held my recent attention have …

A Methodist in the Madness
December 5, 2014 – 11:42 pm | No Comment | by:
A Methodist in the Madness

One of FC United of Manchester’s Course You Can Malcolm collective has sent us the following for publication on their behalf:
‘Twenty-two is a number that found its spiritual home at Course You Can Malcolm.
Whereas bingo …

Potteries Climbdown
December 1, 2014 – 10:01 pm | No Comment | by:
Potteries Climbdown

The N40 are in town on Tuesday so there’s bound to be mayhem and carnage. With that in mind, here’s our own hooliologist Angry Bear’s dissing of Staffordshire’s most feared firm, which originally appeared in …