‘Malcolm Glazer will never have heard of Blackpool Mechanics FC but ironically his takeover of Manchester United last summer has provided the tiny North West Counties League Division Two club with an unexpected windfall.
The formation of FC United by supporters of Manchester United opposed to the American entrepeneur's ownership of their club, has transformed the finances of every team who play in their division this season. FC United's fixtures have attracted record attendances to the 10th tier of the football pyramid, with crowds averaging nearly 3,000, home and away.
On New Year's Bank Holiday Monday, an incredible 4,328 turned up to watch the top-of-the-table clash with Winsford United and 3,549 were in attendance on Saturday as FC United completed a double over Ashton Town with a 2-1 win, to remain 14 points clear at the top of the league, having suffered just one defeat in 22 games.
A passionate desire to return to old values is a lot of what FC United is all about.
"The Glazer takeover was the final straw," said board member and founder Jules Spencer. "We had previously considered a new club in 1998 when Rupert Murdoch made a bid for Manchester United, but that bid failed."
It was the strength of the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association, set up in 1995 as a result of an Old Trafford announcement ordering supporters in the K-stand to remain seated or face ejection that saw off Murdoch, but many realised that it would only be a matter of time. "Millions of pounds are going out of the club to the wrong people," said Spencer, who has been going to Old Trafford since 1978. "We can't sit with our friends, kids can't get in and some players just don't care about the fans. At the moment we may be making decisions that could be described as emotional, as with the vote not to have a sponsor's name that would tarnish the shirt," he continued. "We do live in the real world, we just have different ways of doing things."
But some things will never change. The Manchester Road End was in good voice all afternoon and as the names of Adie Orr and Josh Howard were sung alongside those of George Best and Eric Cantona, I heard the one I was waiting for. "We are the Busby boys," they sang, and I guess whatever happens, they always will be.’