Supporters of fan-owned FC United of Manchester are celebrating after raising more than £1.6m to help fund a new football ground and community sports facility.

The money generated by a community share issue scheme will help the club unlock the grant funding they need to meet the costs of the £4.6m project and enable building to start on the Moston site in the spring.

FC United general manager Andy Walsh, said: "Reaching our £1.6m target from the share issue is a fantastic achievement, especially in the current economic climate. We believe this is the largest amount ever raised by football supporters independently.

"Raising capital through community shares is a unique development in English football and has been recognised as offering a real alternative to the way football is run and financed."

Each shareholder has just one vote regardless of the number of shares they hold, preserving the common ownership of the club. Something that is very important to the fans who set up the breakaway club in 2005 after opposing American businessman Malcolm Glazer's controversial takeover of Manchester United.

The share schemes are designed to enable cooperative organisations like FC United to raise finance from local communities to support expansion and development much more effectively than through traditional methods such as bank borrowing.

"Community shares give a tangible way for fans to raise significant sums of money whilst preserving the football club as a community asset. We believe community shares is preferable way of raising finance to borrowing from banks and more sustainable than relying on wealthy individuals who may not always have the best interest of the club at heart.

"By buying community shares, FC United members are supporting a better way for football to deliver genuine community benefit - one that is owned and run by supporters and committed to wider community and social development and financial sustainability," added Walsh.

Posted on 19/03/2012