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Good news about AFL fundraising

Submitted by on November 16, 2014 – 10:59 pmOne Comment


Regular readers, contributors and interested followers will be aware that A Fine Lung has been raising money for something specific at FC United’s new home since the magazine’s inception in 2008.

We have carried regular updates on what this may entail, both on this website and in our printed publications. We have been absolutely clear and open about it all the way along.

As the reality of a football ground in Moston finally appeared on the horizon, discussions with the club stepped up in terms of what the £6,154.09 we have (so far) raised, completely independently, could pay for at Broadhurst Park.

We are pleased to announce that due to positive dialogue between AFL and FC United’s board, great progress has been made on this and just this past week we have come to an initial, possible agreement on what the money may be spent on. This is the result of a lot of hard work on the part of those involved with AFL and members of FC United’s board. All involved deserve great credit.

This lovely development comes at a good time for our club and it also allows us to finally address some of the genuine confusion and deliberate scaremongering that has led to rumours doing the rounds on the internet about the situation with AFL funds.

Sadly, some people for their own reasons, have spread untruths about the destination and whereabouts of the money we have raised through honest and creative graft over the past six years or so. It is deeply insulting to those who have put hours of work into raising money for the benefit of their club.

It came to a head this weekend when contributors to AFL and people with even the merest connection to the publication, were challenged and accused, without foundation, at FC United’s game against Buxton in the FA Trophy yesterday.

For anyone who is genuinely concerned and/or confused by the situation here is an explanatory excerpt of a letter we sent to the club in early October, as part of our ongoing discussions, explaining our historical and contemporaneous situation:

Firstly we would like to state categorically that the money raised by those involved with A Fine Lung is, as it always has been, meant for FC United of Manchester’s own ground. We were saddened to hear via a question at the recent members’ meeting that rumours are circulating to the contrary.

It is important to consider the six years that have passed since that first issue of A Fine Lung hit the streets. Things have changed a great deal, with the ground plans and all the intricacies of these being a case in point. Of course, we are aware of the difficult job the board has to face, and we understand that things are far more streamlined and ‘organised’ than they were back in 2008 when we began our fund. When AFL was born on the 189th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre, FC United was still seeking a place to call home. Newton Heath wasn’t even on the agenda then, let alone Moston.

A group of reds, many of whom had known each other from various fanzines and fan campaigns over many years, had come together to create a publication to reflect the city they called home, while also helping out their new club. Many of those behind the birth of AFL were on the original steering committee, founder members, volunteers and even board members of FC United. We aren’t money people, but wished to use our talents for the greater good.

Being well aware that members of this loose, unorganised co-operative would play their part, on an individual basis, in funding the bricks and mortar of our new home through the various other existing fundraising projects, the group sought to raise money for something special and ‘different’. Something to look forward to in the future once the ground was well underway. As Adam [Brown] has stated at several meetings, ‘once we are in the ground, there will still be plenty of things that still need to be paid for’.

At first we aimed to pay for a chimney in the clubhouse. That was stated in our first ever issue. Then-board member Martin Morris told us the club would ensure the Development Fund would have a specific place for money raised by AFL. Hence us mentioning the DF in our early issues and previews on the FC United web site. This ‘separate pot within the DF’ however was not set up for reasons outside of our control. This is a key bit of the history of this matter. We want to emphasise again that we have always produced AFL and raised money for the club in good faith.

Representatives heading up the ground build at Newton Heath later ruled out the chimney. Therefore from issue four onwards, we no longer mentioned the Development Fund at all, as we were aware we were no longer raising funds for it on the club’s insistence. Prior to that we had only mentioned the DF because we had been assured by the board member that a specific part would be set up for our fundraising to be spent for a specific purpose.

We had to come up with a new aim to galvanise us and those reading and appreciating our lovely little publication. In the meantime, we made general statements about ‘raising funds for our new home’ (and similar on the online stall). Which is what we were doing and have continued to do (this was a deliberately general statement and makes no link to the Development Fund). The funds we have raised, as stated at the start of our response, are for the ground. That has never changed.

Eventually we came up with the aims we stated in issue eight. We hoped to help pay for the development and decoration of something the club couldn’t afford – the space underneath the East Stand (St Mary’s Road end). This would primarily be a community space for use during the week, but capable of hosting Course You Can Malcolm for three hours every two weeks on a matchday, thus ensuring the popular club event would survive. We would like to state categorically that community use for that space has always been our priority as clearly explained in issue eight.

We held several positive meetings with Andy Walsh and Adam Brown about these plans. And we were open on our website and in our publication that we were fundraising for a specific thing.

The latest situation with our fund, then, as far as our readers and contributors are aware, is what we said in issue eight (link: http://www.afinelung.com/?p=5357). We have obligations to everyone who has both written for and bought the Lung – we are only the custodians of it. As we are sure you can appreciate, we have to take all opinions into account and will therefore come back to you when we are in a position to have discussed this matter properly with contributors and readers of AFL.

In the meantime we want to reiterate our ongoing commitment to helping the club provide an inclusive and culturally distinct space in the new ground – this being the positive reason why we have always sought to ‘ring-fence’ the money we have raised.

The club responded to this by saying: “any money spent on the ground has to be spent through the Development Fund and allocated by the project team to what is in the existing project, not for any additional items. Should AFL wish to nominate something in the existing plans to which the money is allocated, then please let us know your ideas, but this must be part of the existing project.”

We have since responded with an idea, which was well received by the board representative we have been dealing with. We therefore hope to be able to reveal concrete (no pun intended) details on this soon.

As well as delivering this good news, we would like to take the opportunity to categorically end all inaccurate and malicious rumours about the money.

The money has been raised by AFL contributors and purchasers of the magazine and T-shirts only. People seeking to link Lung funds with FC United’s pre-match event Course You Can Malcolm are completely incorrect and some are clearly acting maliciously.

AFL and CYCM are two totally separate things. As clearly and explicitly stated by FC United general manager Andy Walsh, at a recent members’ meeting:

If anyone has any queries or suggestions about any of the above, please contact us via: content@afinelung.com.

Meanwhile, the volunteers behind Course You Can Malcolm have asked AFL to publish this statement on this website (as a site that is regularly viewed by FC United fans) to clear up some points that have offended them.

The CYCM volunteers said:

“Planned and staffed entirely by volunteers, CYCM has always been a fundraiser for FC United with all monies raised going directly to the club.
On the internet and in person yesterday, it has been suggested by certain individuals that CYCM monies have been “held back” because organisers want these funds to be used for a specific purpose.
This is a gross inaccuracy. Money raised by CYCM events has either gone into the day-to-day operation of FC United or the building of Broadhurst Park. The decisions on how these funds have been spent have been made by the club’s management and/or Board and not any volunteer from CYCM. Any suggestion to the contrary is false and misleading.

It would appear that such slurs have been started and perpetuated by people opposed to CYCM generally and/or those specifically opposed to the proposal for CYCM to be held at Broadhurst Park.

It would benefit those opposed to CYCM to have supporters of FC United, especially those able to vote at the club’s forthcoming AGM, believe that CYCM is “a club within a club” whose volunteers want to dictate where money raised by the events is spent. This is categorically untrue, insulting and hurtful.

We would therefore ask that such innuendo is ignored and that instead people focus only on the fact that CYCM monies have all been paid directly to the club, as stated by general manager Andy Walsh at a members’ meeting in September, and allocated thereafter by management/Board. Should CYCM continue at Broadhurst Park, this will continue to be the case.”

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