FC United of Manchester

Fan-owned pioneers inspire global followers

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

The largest fan-owned football club in the country, FC United of Manchester have come a long way in the 15+ years or so since their formation. Despite relegation from the sixth-tier National League North in 2019, FCUM still attract healthy crowds to their own stadium of Broadhurst Park

And, despite boardroom rumbles in 2016, the Red Rebels remain a club run on democratic lines, the anti-Glazer stance that inspired FCUM’s formation in 2005 even more relevant today, given the European Super League controversy in 2021.

Broadhurst Park/Tony Dawber

As history might have it, the club was Conceived In A Curry House, the title of a play part-staged by FCUM fans in 2016. Performed in Moston, the north-eastern district of Manchester where Broadhurst Park is located, the play dramatised the ten-year journey of FCUM from a community meeting of malcontents to a 5,000-member club then two rungs from full league status.

FCUM’s creation is directly linked to the complete takeover of Manchester United by the Glazer family in 2005. A name and strategy were worked out in a democratic fashion over the spring. Remarkably, the manager appointed when the club was created, Manchester-born Karl Marginson, was still in place more than ten years later.

Broadhurst Park/Tony Dawber

By July 2005, a groundswell of more than 4,000 people had pledged money to FC United, the club had over £100,000 in the bank, and the journey had begun. Hiring Marginson, initially on a part-time basis so that he could still run his fruit-and-veg delivery business, the newly found club attracted crowds as high as 6,000 to their temporary home of Bury’s Gigg Lane as FCUM rose up through the North West Counties League.

After three promotions in as many seasons and making their debut in the FA Cup, FA Vase and FA Trophy, FCUM made the Northern Premier League in 2007. Reaching the NPL play-offs three seasons running, the Red Rebels made the second round of the FA Cup in 2010. Only a late goal by former Tottenham Hotspur regular Mauricio Taricco at Brighton prevented the fan-owned upstarts from reaching the third round – and a potential clash with Manchester United. Nearly 7,000 crammed into Gigg Lane for the replay, Brighton winning 4-0.

FCUM Shop/Peterjon Cresswell

Cup hero, goalkeeper Sam Ashton, left FCUM soon afterwards, but popular midfielder Carlos Roca stayed on to keep the club in the NPL title race.

It wasn’t until 2015 Marginson’s men managed to leap-frog the play-off places and win the NPL outright. Groundsharing Bower Fold with Stalybridge Celtic and Tameside Stadium with Curzon Ashton while building continued at Broadhurst Park, FCUM pipped Workington to the NPL title, goals coming from former England under-19 forward Craig Lindfield and Tom Greaves, whose heartbreaking 119th-minute strike for Bradford Park Avenue had settled the NPL play-off against FCUM in 2012. 

A crowd of 3,588, a season-best for the whole league, was recorded for the historic 1-0 win over Stourbridge on Tuesday, April 21, 2015, the night that FCUM claimed the Northern Premier League Premier title and promotion to the National League North.

Broadhurst Park/Jim Wilkinson

Just over three weeks later, an invitational gala match was staged between FCUM players present and past to test-run the £6.5 million Broadhurst Park, officially opened a fortnight afterwards with the visit of a team from Benfica – exactly 47 years after Manchester United beat Eusébio and co to win the European Cup at Wembley.

More than 1,800 people had helped raise nearly £2 million towards the cost of the new stadium, set a goal-kick away from Newton Heath where the original Manchester United had been formed by local railway workers in 1878.

On August 11, Broadhurst Park staged its first competitive fixture, the visit of neighbours Stockport County for a National League North game. FCUM’s 2-1 defeat that day prefaced a dreadful run of results that autumn, behind-the-scenes in-fighting over club principles threatening to ruin the good work achieved over the previous decade.

Broadhurst Park/Tony Dawber

In the end, FCUM rallied to finish safely mid-table, former Manchester United star Steve Coppell involved with the club as the Red Rebels made a first trip to the US in May 2016 to play fellow community outfit Detroit City. A year later, Marginson bowed out, his name still chanted at Broadhurst Park from that day to this.

Now in the Northern Premier after relegation from the National League North in 2019, FC United of Manchester remain a vital force in the community, their example followed in football’s most obscure corners. As fan-led protests swept the country following the European Super League controversy in 2021, the principles by which FCUM were formed in 2005 may yet inspire others.

Ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

Opened in 2015 with a gala fixture against Benfica on the 47th anniversary of Manchester United’s historic European Cup win, Broadhurst Park first saw league action that August with a local derby against Stockport County. Whereas most games in the National League North that evening had crowds in the hundreds, more than 3,000 had gathered at the 4,400-capacity ground in Moston, north-east Manchester.

For their first decade, FCUM were based at Bury’s Gigg Lane, moving to various grounds around Manchester as the Broadhurst Park development came into being. Having to shelve the initial idea of playing in Newton Heath, original ground (and name) of Manchester United, FCUM switched their attention to the Moston site. Despite the presence a local junior side and protests from nearby residents, the project was given the green light in 2013.

Nearly a third of the £6.5 million construction costs came from a FCUM community share scheme, plus £1 million other fundraising. The stadium comprises four covered stands, with seating for 700 in the main one, standing terraces at the front. Opposite is the North Terrace, with St Mary’s Road the home end, Lightbowne Road the away. Capacity is 4,400.

getting there

Going to the ground – tips and timings

For afternoon games, five match-day buses (12.30pm-2.50pm) and free shuttle buses leave from The Railway pub opposite Newton Heath & Moston stop on the pink line of the Metrolink network. Tram services run every 12min from Manchester Victoria (direction Rochdale, journey time 10min). Buses take 5mins to run straight up St Mary’s Road to the ground or it’s a 10-15min walk. 

Regular buses 181 and 182 also run every 30mins (every hr Sun) from Piccadilly Gardens in town, stop F on Lever Street by the 19 Cafe Bar, and take 20mins to reach Arden Grove right by Broadhurst Park. They also call at The Railway pub.


From Manchester Victoria, hourly trains run to Moston (journey time 8min, £4/£5 day return), 10-15min walk from Broadhurst Park via Hollinwood Avenue and left into Lightbowne Road, location of pre-match pub, the Gardeners Arms.

The club offers 160 parking spaces at Broadhurst Park (M40 0FJ), available for £5, pre-booking only. Alternatively, there are 150 places available at £3 each at St Matthew’s RC High School (M40 0EW), by St Mary’s Church on Nuthurst Road. Head past the church down St Mary’s Lane, the ground is 7-8mins away.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

Admission is cash on the day, £12 for adults, £7 over-60s/unwaged, £3 under-18s, correct change appreciated. Turnstiles open at 1pm for afternoon games, 6.30pm midweek.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

On match days, a club shop operates beside the ticket office, offering a range of witty T-shirts, replica tops (home red, away white, third-choice blue in honour of ’68) and badges. German groundhoppers tend to snap up the Republic of Mancunia ones.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

Opposite Newton Heath & Moston station, The Railway is a convenient pre-match pub, not least because it runs free shuttle buses to the ground. Local Holt ale is served in traditional surroundings – and local Holt ale only. There’s TV sport, too, and numerous images of classic locomotives, harking back to a shared past with Manchester United. Note also the picture of the pub bowling team from the early 1900s.

If you’re coming by train from Moston, the equally traditional Gardeners Arms at the junction of Hollinwood Avenue and Lightbowne Road is run by another local brewery, JW Lees.

Nearer Broadhurst Park, on Teddington Road just off St Mary’s Road, the café at the Miners Arts & Music Community Centre merits your custom, a social club and great local resource for young musicians and artists. At the ground, there are bars under the main stand and behind the home St Mary’s Road end.