Punk Football for the Working Class

Written by: Peter Alegi

Primary Source: Football Is Coming Home

We play therefore we are.

That, in essence, is the sentiment that motivated a group of disaffected Red Devils’ fans opposed to Malcolm Glazer’s $1.5 billion takeover in 2003 of Manchester United to quit Old Trafford and form a new club: FC United of Manchester.

Punk Football, a terrific and profoundly humanistic new documentary film, chronicles FC United’s dramatic 2012-13 campaign which brought them to the brink of promotion to the North Conference League—five levels below the glitz and glamor of the English Premier League.

We are introduced to FC United supporters, officials, players, and coaches who explain what it means to be a community football club owned and democratically run by 2825 co-owners, each holding one voting share. FC United’s manifesto makes it clear this is football by the people, for the people. Football for the working class. “FC United seeks to change the way that football is owned and run, putting supporters at the heart of everything,” states the club’s website. “It aims to show, by example, how this can work in practice by creating a sustainable, successful, fan-owned, democratic football club that creates real and lasting benefits to its members and local communities.”

Around the time of the film’s release, construction began on FC United’s new 5,000-capacity stadium. After wandering for years playing home matches at rented grounds, most recently at Gigg Lane in Bury, members raised more than £2m through a share scheme, and secured additional funding from Sport England, the Football Foundation, the City of Manchester, and Manchester College. (Click here for a recent news story about the stadium.)

The extraordinary story of FC United putting people and poetry before profits is beautifully told in this brilliant documentary. Don’t miss it!

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Peter Alegi
Peter Alegi is Professor of History at Michigan State University. He is the author of Laduma! Soccer, Politics, and Society in South Africa (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2004) and African Soccerscapes: How a Continent Changed the World’s Game (Ohio University Press, 2010). With Peter Limb, Alegi hosts the “Africa Past and Present” podcast. Follow him on Twitter @futbolprof.
Peter Alegi

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