The club is delighted to announce a prestigious pre-season match, against fellow fan-owned club FC United of Manchester, on Friday 12th July at 7.45pm.
FC United of Manchester were founded in 2005, for a number of reasons including Malcolm Glazer's takeover of Manchester United, changing kick off times for the benefit of television, soulless all-seater stadia full of 'new' supporters intent to sit back and watch rather than partake in the occasion, heavy handed stewarding and ridiculously priced tickets. A group of determined individuals formed a steering committee and FC United of Manchester was delivered – a member owned democratic, not-for-profit organisation created by Manchester United fans. A club accessible to all the Greater Manchester community, dedicated to encouraging participation of youth whether it be playing or supporting and to providing affordable football for all.
After ground-sharing between 2005 and 2015 with Bury at Gigg Lane, F.C. United opened their own ground, Broadhurst Park in north-east Manchester, in May 2015. Following the move, the club’s home gates averaged 3,394 in 2015. They progressed from the North West Counties League Division Two to the National League North in less than a decade, being relegated back to the Evo-Stik Premier Division (Northern Premier League) at the end of last season. The club are owned by 2,500 members - the largest supporter-owned football club in the United Kingdom by membership.
The match will be for the Brian Lomax Cup - an annual fixture held between two supporter-owned football clubs to celebrate the role that fans play in owning and supporting their own football clubs up and down the country. Running since 2002, the first winner of the Cup was AFC Wimbledon, when they beat Enfield Town 3-2. Since then, two supporter-owned clubs have been invited every summer to take part in this event. Town have won the trophy four times – in 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2018 - FC United have won it twice - in 2006 and 2015.
The trophy itself has Jock Stein’s maxim inscribed: “Football without fans is nothing” and Town won it last year when they overcame Clapton Community FC 4-0 at the QEII Stadium. The name of the trophy is in memory of the former Supporters Direct Managing Director, considered to be the “founding father” of the Supporters Trust movement, who sadly passed away in 2015. Honoured with an OBE in 2009 for services to the game, Brian’s life touched and inspired many people. Although he did not seek fame, by naming the Cup in this way SD wanted everyone to remember him with this annual fixture.
Supporters Direct have been helping supporters have a voice at their club for 18 years and have played a part in helping over 50 members own their clubs; from League One side AFC Wimbledon, right down to the base of the football pyramid, and into other sports too. The model may not be perfect, but supporters of all such clubs can take control of their own destiny with ownership.
Town Chairman Paul Reed said, “This will be a very firm test for the squad to kick start the 2019-20 season and will be a great occasion. I’m looking forward to it already!”
More details about the match will be available nearer the time.