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Praise for FC United’s union solidarity

Submitted by on November 10, 2010 – 1:12 pm8 Comments

FC United has been praised by Northern Voices magazine for the club’s refusal to cross the BBC picket line following the FA Cup first round win at Rochdale:

The Workers United blog picked up on a heartening story, for lovers of football and shall we say some of the more traditional values it used to espouse.

Last night saw non-league FC United of Manchester beat football league team Rochdale in the first round of the FA Cup, a huge achievement. Those uninterested in football may not be aware that FCUM were set up in response to Malcolm Glazer’s takeover of Manchester United FC five year ago, and immediately set out to do things in a radically different way from most other football clubs. The club is an Industrial and Provident Society where members elect the board, with membership decisions being made on a one-person, one vote basis. The club pledges to avoid outright commercialism and does not display sponsors logos on the team shirts.

You may remember that we previously blogged about the Outcasts exhibition that was commissioned jointly by FCUM and the Working Class Movement Library to commemorate the centenary of the 1909 strike by team members of Manchester United. Since the club is so aware of its roots, and is prepared to celebrate them, it will therefore come as little surprise to find that the club declined to appear on today’s edition of the BBC’s Football Focus, despite the fact that they had just enjoyed the biggest moment in their history – the reason being that the National Union of Journalists members that work at the BBC are on strike, and FCUM decline to effectively cross the picket line.

The Workers United blog makes it clear that the shows scab producer, David Garrido, had tried to manipulate FCUM into appearing by telling them the lie that the strike only applied to newsroom staff, but this ruse was quickly rumbled by the club’s general manager Andy Walsh, who is a former National Executive member of BIFU (now Unite).

Whilst today’s Football Focus did carry a brief report about last night’s match, the location of the programme was beautifully ironic – Old Trafford, the symbol par excellence of the capitalist zenith that is modern football. After the report on FCUM, scab guest and ex-Man United player Nicky Butt told scab presenters Dan Walker and Lee Dixon (ex ‘lucky’ Arsenal) that the Glazers’ ownership style was the “harsh reality of football nowadays”: in his case, the world of crossing picket lines and insulting the memory of Billy Meredith and Charlie Roberts. Of course, he’s right that it is a different world, but then that doesn’t stop FCUM and similar clubs striving for something different from the world of millionaire prima-donnas, executive boxes, administration, ‘business’ and solidarity with the bosses rather than the workers.

If FCUM manage to progress to the next round, then there is the tantalising possibility that a draw could see them face Man United, and deliver an opportunity for the fans of real football to face the ‘consumers’ of the spectacle that is the modern game.

link: http://northernvoicesmag.blogspot.com/2010/11/fc-united-of-manchester-refuse-to-cross.html


  • LesBagg says:

    Butt’s was the typical lazy retort of a modern day footballer, paying lip service to the paymaster.
    Of course we know it’s the “harsh reality of football nowadays”, lad! But that will never, ever make it right will it?
    That, Nicky, in case you hadn’t noticed, is why folk with a bit of vision and conscience are trying to do something about it!

  • Felonious Manc says:

    Pity that Northern Voices had to descend to the use of the pathetic expression “scab” which is all about trying to win an argument by dehumanising the other side. An argument which isn’t strong enough to stand on its own without that sort of crap doesn’t deserve to prevail.

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  • Talkative says:

    Yes, was disappointing but certainly not surprising to see half of the Gorton-Buenos Aires Combo working for the BBC during a strike, and then to hear his lazy and cliched comments about fans only really being interested in where the next goal comes from.

    Although, at the same time, the fact that so many players and other football people routinely characterise football’s ‘punters’ in that way should make those fans who still pay to see their clubs turned into mere means rather than ends, squirm in their seats. After all, Nicky pretty much only said what most of us think about many modern football fans – it’s just they don’t like our critical tones as much as the condescending tones of those who make a good living from saying it.

    Strong language by the article writer but technically correct – I’d prefer to describe Nicky and other players as just a symptom of the last few decades of millionnaire players living in a bubble. He probably didn’t even consider his appearance in the context of the strike, but that doesn’t make it alright.

    Not totally covinced that using the term scab is the right way to go in this case, but as a general principle people need to know that strikes are about protecting working people’s livelihoods, and therefore even small individual acts of crossing picket lines or helping to soften the desired impact of a strike, should be openly characterised as damaging to the strike. These people need their consciences pricking to give them a chance to do the right thing, and maybe jumping straight into calling them a scab is counter-producitve, even if they are.

  • Felonious Manc says:

    Talkative makes some very good points. My problem with words like “scab” is that they’re inherently self-destructive. Let’s not go to the trouble of asking ourselves why people refuse to observe a strike or why union solidarity and membership is so low. Much easier to just paint them as evil people who are less than we are.

  • midjmo says:

    To all those who have criticised the club’s refusal to cross the picket line:

    When you jumped on the FC bandwagon in 2005, you made a political statement. Had the club crossed the BBC picket line they would have been making a (wrong) political statement also. Walshy opted for the correct statement of the two choices before him.

    I believe he represented the beliefs of the vast majority of the members of this football club. I think you will find it is indeed you, who is in the minority.

    You’re involved in politics with every action you partake in, across all walks of everyday life. From where you chose to buy your tracksuit bottoms, to the football club you volunteer for.

    FC United is political and by its founding principles, manifesto and organisational structure is left wing. Get over it.

    The fact some fools considered not putting money into the community shares project on the issue of Walsh refusing to cross a picket line, says a lot about them.

    The fact some would criticise someone for supporting (in a personal capacity – although I believe the club should have issued an official statement) a protest against racist bigots trying to make a disgusting statement in our city, also tells its own story. As does the fact some people think FC United should be neutral on such an issue, even though the EDL are completely at odds with the club’s manifesto.

    Football is politics. FC United is politics. Your choice of tracksuit bottoms is politics.

    Those outspoken opponents of supporting working people in their struggles against exploitation, should have a serious chat with themselves about what they are doing following FC United of Manchester.

  • Twomowers says:

    another scab article here


    and before anyone starts moaning – yes, i know there’s nothing about football in it, don’t cry.

  • midjmo says:

    Brian Reade has been spot on in recent months and he is once again here.

    But some, mostly those of questionable agendas, would say those who crossed the picket line did it because they ‘aren’t political’.

    In fact, they are just as political, if not more, than those who stood firm with their colleagues.

    I wonder if they got some extra publicity for their careers. Worth it then?

    Which reminds me. Some of very questionable politics and agendas have recently tried to use the arguement that FC United missed out on publicity by not taking part in Football Focus due to the BBC strike.

    The publicity and support we received for supporting the strikers will be far more worthwhile and from those of far better repute than that we would have garnered had we ‘scabbed’ in line with your politics…

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