Rebels stick to their principles
FC UNITED chief Andy Walsh says the club will not jeopardise its future by trying to compete with the big- spenders in the UniBond League.
The club has already seen star players Rory Patterson, Stuart Rudd and Josh Howard leave after helping to secure a third successive promotion for the Rebels.
But the club’s general manager Walsh says that, although the playing budget has been increased for next season to reflect the move up to a higher level, there will be no crazy money paid out.
Patterson, who topped the UniBond First Division scoring charts last season, has reluctantly left after his £150-a-week deal at FC was trebled by big-spending rivals Bradford Park Avenue, who also play at Premier Division level next season after pipping the Rebels to the title.
Park Avenue have been backed by wealthy property developer Bob Blackburn, who has ambitions to guide the club back into the Football League and also snapped up Rudd after he was released.
FC have bounced back by signing pacy forwards Carlos Roca and Kyle Wilson, and also securing key midfielders Chris Baguley and Jerome Wright, and left back Bradley Howard.
Walsh says they will stick to their founding principles and not get involved in auctions for players.
“It’s difficult to get across to people who look at our crowd figures of 2,000-2,500 and think we must be rolling in it,” he said. “But the overheads that come with ground-sharing a stadium the size of Gigg Lane mean that every year is a struggle.
“It is a credit to our manager Karl Marginson and his players that we have achieved three successive promotions – we have definitely been punching above our weight.
“The playing budget has increased, but we will still be paying less than most clubs in our division.”
Club members will vote next month on ticket prices for next season, but Walsh says that whatever the decision, the club will continue to cut its cloth accordingly.
He said: “It is a struggle, but that probably applies to every football club in the country apart from the top two or three. We believe that if something is worth fighting for, people will make the commitment, and the commitment of our supporters has been brilliant.”
The key to the club moving forward is to build their own £5m community stadium, and eight sites have been identified in Manchester and Salford. Supporters raised £100,000 last season towards a stadium development fund, and have pledged another £40,000-a-year through standing orders.
But the club is also seeking funding from government and community bodies, and plans to build a stadium which will be of benefit to the entire community in which it is based.
It is hoped that it the stadium will incorporate all-weather pitches for use by local players, and a community room which will host events such as music gigs, comedy nights and bingo.
I suppose the most startling aspect of that article, even above the interesting stadium news, and the fantastic efforts of the fans to raise so much money towards it, is that BobBlackburn Park Avenue are paying Rory Patterson £450 a week. 23 grand a year to play part time, non league football? That’s, frankly, ridiculous.
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