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And as it went, so it goes…

Submitted by on March 7, 2011 – 9:29 amNo Comment

Picture by Mick Dean

The Tory cuts, which are set to destroy the lives of the un-monied across the country, all in the name of a twisted ideology, have now impacted on FC United of Manchester, as due to huge funding reductions Manchester City Council has been forced to put the plans for a football ground at Ten Acres Lane under review.

Therefore FC United will not be building a stadium on that site in Newton Heath. Heartbreaking as this is, the council have made reassurances that a new site in the north of the city should be made available for FC United. The new site is bigger and was originally considered several years ago, but was ruled out due to other agencies being interested in redeveloping it. The situation has changed and it is now hoped things will be tied up within four weeks.

The Tories, cleverly, have managed to avoid much criticism from the more foolish among Britain’s population, for the cuts, with Labour councils and the Liberal Democrats copping for much of the blame. But this issue shows how their political cuts, under the guise of reducing debts that they actually don’t ever have to pay off, will impact most people in a way we could only imagine this time last year.

Manchester City Council are far from perfect, and their link up with MCFC, although a financial ‘no-brainer’ (to use business speak) is cringeworhty to say the least, but be under no illusion that a settlement reducing government capital grants from £110m to £60m has left them in an impossible position. We can only hope they are true to their word and deliver the new site. We’ll watch and wait.

While we’re on the subject, another body deserving of criticism is the increasingly pathetic Manchester Evening News. Having already laid off staff at regular intervals before having the cheek to launch a campaign slamming the government cuts (hypocrisy anyone?) they attempted to stitch up FC with the headline ‘FC United scrap Newton Heath stadium plan after council withdraws £650,000 funding’ on their website on Saturday.

It’s still there now, despite reporters at the paper and members of the club requesting it be changed to actually be ‘accurate’ rather than a blatantly misguided lie. Don’t hold your breath. We know those responsible and once again, we will be watching and waiting.

Here’s the council and FC’s statements:

’Manchester City Council has announced that the proposal to develop a football ground with community sports provision at Ten Acres Lane in partnership with FC United will be under review.

As a result of the challenging local government settlement, the Council has to ensure that any available resources are optimised and deliver the very best for Manchester. The Council has therefore had to revisit its spending plans and examine other opportunities for securing a football facility within the city.

The Council acknowledges the immense amount of energy, time and effort that FC United and its members have invested in the Ten Acres Lane proposal to date and remain absolutely committed to helping FC United achieve its ambition of building a new ground in time for the 2012-13 season.
It shares the club’s vision for improving and developing football and sports provision and to that end, the Council is seeking to examine the most financially viable solution for a ground and community football facilities in the city, which makes the most use of Council resources. The City Council will carry out detailed feasibility work to enable a preferred option to be brought forward.

The Council and FC United have committed to producing a detailed report within the next month outlining the preferred option and the benefits to the local community. The Council will continue to work with FC United to raise investment for funding from the Football Foundation, Sport England and any other external funding partners, in order to secure a strong community offer in Manchester.

Both parties are aware of the commitment and support shown for the Ten Acres Lane proposal by many thousands of people, not least the residents of Newton Heath and FC United’s members and the partners are committed to bringing forward a proposal which will benefit both community football and the residents of Manchester, while making the most of available Council resources.

Regardless of the outcome of the report, the Council remains committed to Ten Acres Lane and continuing with maintaining the community use of this facility. The Club and the Council will reveal full details of the preferred option for the stadium and the plans for Ten Acres Lane by the end of March 2011.

Eddie Smith, Chief Executive of New East Manchester said: “We have to review these proposals in the light of the funding cuts necessitated by the government’s settlement. But we remain committed to working closely with the club to examine options for plans which both meet their ambitions and deliver the widest possible community benefits.”

FC United statement:

We are sure that the news that Ten Acres Lane is no longer a viable option will come as a considerable shock to our supporters as it did to the Board when we learnt of this development in the last few days.

However supporters should also note that the statement provides us with a number of commitments on behalf of Manchester City Council. It is these and other assurances that the Board have been working hard to secure in the last few days. It is our belief that as a result of negotiations some of those commitments are stronger than were even in place for Ten Acres Lane.

The emotional attachment we all felt to Ten Acres should not be underestimated. The Council appreciate that their decision means that the terms of the Community Share Scheme will need to be amended and a revised offer document issued. The club will send a separate communication next week to those members who have applied for Community Shares. We are satisfied that the Council have given the appropriate financial guarantees to ensure that the terms of the revised scheme will be at least equivalent to if not superior to those in the previous offer on Ten Acres Lane and that the proposed new site has the potential to deliver everything and more.

We ask supporters to remain patient and resilient in the coming days and weeks. There will be those within and outside our ranks that will question the future of this project. We stress, the Board remain fully committed to delivering a new home for FC United for the start of the 2012-13 season and no amount of setbacks will distract us from that pursuit.

Hasta La Victoria Siempre

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