A visit to Broadhurst Park

Last week Trust PRO Niall Farrell travelled to Manchester to attend Supporters’ Direct’s Supporters’ Summit. FC United of Manchester kindly organised a tour of their new ground, Broadhurst Park, for Niall. Thanks to FCUM, in particular Des Lynch and Vinny Thompson, for facilitating Niall.

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Walking up from the Metrolink tram stop towards Broadhurst Park, I recalled the last time I had visited FC United of Manchester – and what had changed for the club since then.

It was three years ago in Bury’s Gigg Lane, and FC were playing in the Northern Premier League against Chorley FC. Even though FC lost 1-0, it was a fantastic experience. The atmosphere was unlike anything I’d ever experienced – and you could really sense that there was a sense of community around the club.

The far stand - complete with flags and banners.

The far stand – complete with flags, banners and TV gantry.

Still, they were playing in Gigg Lane. This was another club’s ground – and had been that club’s ground for almost 120 years. To put it in perspective, this would be like Shelbourne moving to play in Bray Wanderers’ Carlisle Grounds. Bury – although in the Greater Manchester area – is a distinct town with its own history and community. Supporters going to FC United matches in Gigg Lane may have felt part of the FC United community – but the evidence that this was really Bury FC territory was never far from your eyes.

In contrast, Broadhurst Park is truly FC United’s ground. Situated in Moston – it’s about a 20 minute tram journey from the city centre. FC have been doing sterling work to steep themselves in the local community – as evidenced by the inclusion of community classrooms, conference areas and community gardens at the new ground. There are areas for beekeeping and growing vegetables, and supporters have even brewed their own craft beer that’s served in the club bar. Everything about Broadhurst Park seems to be angled at the community. That community is defined as being broader than the activity of going football – hence the big emphasis on participation – but make no mistake, those interested in football are well catered for.

This area - under the former Northwich Victoria stand - was used as an impromptu bar for the inaugural match against Benfica. Long-term, it will be converted into community classrooms.

This area – under the former Northwich Victoria stand – was used as an impromptu bar for the inaugural match against Benfica. Long-term, it will be converted into community classrooms.

Safe standing terraces, the subject of much discussion in the UK – although widespread in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, feature prominently. The main stand contains the aforementioned club bar, as well as the club’s offices and ticketing area. On the day I visited, there was a volunteer’s meeting being held in the bar, which comfortably held thirty or forty people seated on chairs.

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The other stand was (partly) once Northwich Victoria’s Dane Bank terrace. 1874 Northwich, the fan-owned club formed in 2012 after the owner of Northwich Vics had been declared bankrupt, gave FC United their blessing to use the stand.

The stand made from parts on the old Dale Park terrace, once of Northwich Victoria FC.

The stand made from parts on the old Dale Park terrace, once of Northwich Victoria FC.

The ground will be shared with Moston Juniors, the local youth side – as well as FC United’s women’s team. As you enter the ground, there are astro-turf pitches for training on. There is also an empty patch of grass just in front of the ground. When I asked what that was being used for, I was told that it’s there for youngsters to have a kickabout on matchdays.

The training pitches in front of the ground - the empty area for playing around on is just to the left in this picture.

The training pitches in front of the ground – the empty area for playing around on is just to the left in this picture.

This probably exemplifies the FC United ethos as well as anything else. The club is about providing a space for the wider community, with football at its core. Other clubs in the Manchester area have statues outside their ground to show their tradition and ethos.
With FCUM, you get the feeling that no statues will ever be necessary. Broadhurst Park is the perfect monument.

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The 1895 Trust Update – July 13th, 2015

Volunteering with the Trust

We’re holding a volunteers’ meeting on July 17th in the Tolka Bar before kick off with the aim of getting as many people as possible involved in the Trust’s work. Details of specific vacancies can be found here.

 

We’d also particularly like to encourage people to come up with ideas fundraisers and help us to organise them. The club also require a wide range of skills, and we have referred some members onward to the board in the past.

 

Please contact shelstrust@gmail.com with any ideas you might have – and please encourage anyone you know to come along to the volunteers’ meeting on July 17th.

 

 

Membership Targets Reminder

Having exceeded our goal of 100 members by the end of May, the Committee of Management has set the following goals for the remainder of the season:

 

  • 120 members by the end of July
  • Over 100 members paying by monthly subscription
  • Over members by the end of the season

 

We ask all members to do what they can to help us achieve these goals. A large membership base promotes our legitimacy when dealing with any bodies, as well as promoting internal debate and improving our resources.

 

 

Cork City Video

Following the well-documented documentary of the Bohemians v Shamrock Rovers derby, Copa 90 has made a documentary about Cork City, for which they attended City’s Europa League match against K.R. Reykjavik. The short video highlights the endless possibilities of mutual fan-ownership of a football club, as Cork City have qualified for European competition on a stable financial footing just five years into their own fan-ownership project. You can find the video here.

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Financial Statements for 2014

Financial statements for 2014 can now be downloaded here.

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News on the Stadium move

As has been reported previously, the Dalymount deal is proceeding between DCC and Bohemians, with the board of Shelbourne Football Club having made a statement on the matter (available here).
The Trust have undertaken the following initiatives in relation to the move in the past few weeks:
Met with Lord Mayor and Assistant City Manager Brendan Kenny:
After our initial meeting with Lord Mayor Burke, he kindly arranged a follow up meeting with Brendan Kenny, the Assistant City Manager who has worked on the deal. We raised the results of the fans’ ballot on the matter and concerns over Dalymount within our membership.
Statement from Brendan Kenny: 
As part of that meeting, Trust representatives advised Mr Kenny that in order to ensure no miscommunication on the deal, he should provide a written statement through us to Shelbourne fans. That statement can be read here.
Lobbying:
At the meeting of the City Council which heard Mr Kenny’s report on the acquisition of Dalymount, a number of councilors raised concerns about the future of Shelbourne and proposed potential solutions. We would like to thank all of those who did so and the debate can be viewed in full here.
We now want to keep the momentum going and are calling on members and fans to contact their local representatives to express their concerns. You can view a full list of Dublin City Council representatives here and a suggested message from the Trust at the end of this update.


Membership update:

Having achieved our goal of over 100 members by the end of May, the Committee of Management has set some new goals to achieve for the remainder of the season. They are as follows:
-120 members before the end of July
-Over 100 members paying by monthly subscription.
-Over 150 member by the end of the season.
Again, please do what you can to help us achieve these goals. A large membership helps internal debate, makes us more legitimate when dealing with the club and other bodies and helps contribute human and financial resources to our aims. As always, you can sign up at www.the1895trust.com/join or at our stand on match days.
Appendix: Suggested message to councilors.
 
Dear Councillor,
I am a voter in your electoral ward and also a fan of Shelbourne Football Club.  I am very concerned that the future of my club, which is 120 years old this year, is currently in jeopardy.As you are no doubt aware, a deal has been agreed to purchase Dalymount Park, bringing it into public ownership. The deal currently excludes Shelbourne FC from its terms, meaning we are left in a perilous financial state and remain in a ground owned by a third party.I would ask you to support the calls of the 1895 Trust – a co-operative of Shelbourne supporters set up to one day run the club in the democratic interests of the fans – to pledge to;
1.     Keep scrutinising the deal in the chamber, through committees and written questions.
2.     Pledge not to vote for any deal on Tolka Park, including rezoning, until Shelbourne Fans have had their own vote on any such deal.
3.     Contact the 1895 Trust as the largest fan representative group of Shelbourne FC to discuss the issues further.  They can be contacted on shelstrust@gmail.com.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.
Regards,
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Statement on Dalymount deal

As confirmed by last night’s City Council meeting, Dublin City Council have agreed a deal to purchase Dalymount Park, bringing the stadium into public ownership and clearing debts which relate to charges held over the ground by Zurich Bank and other creditors.

Numerous media reports have stated Shelbourne are excluded from the deal due to inability to secure the lease and opposition from “some” fans. The Trust feel it is important to clarify two things:
1. The lease is owned by developer Jerry O’Reilly, and any decisions pertaining to the lease must be made with his agreement.
2. The Trust was the only group to conduct a structured consultation with fans through a ballot of nearly 200 fans and two separate meetings on the matter.
Indications are that the Football Club may be invited back into the development process at a later stage.
The Trust is committed to working with all relevant stakeholders to keep our fans central to this process and will not waiver from the principle that the consent of our fanbase must be secured for any move away from Tolka Park.
Finally, the deal is a strong case study of the benefits of fan ownership. Officials, members and fans at Bohemians pulled together and lobbied hard to secure a deal, persuading the FAI and DCC that Dalymount was the right option. Unity at our own club is crucial and committing towards some common goals is the only way they can be achieved.
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