FC United’s protest over TV coverage fails

Date published: Wednesday 28th October 2015 12:50

FC United of Manchester TEAMtalk

FC United of Manchester have been told they must comply with competition rules after the club opposed the decision to move their FA Cup tie against Chesterfield for television coverage.

The club, formed in 2005 by Manchester United supporters opposed to American businessman Malcolm Glazer’s takeover, is owned and democratically run by its supporters.

Since their inception, they have campaigned for change on a number of issues affecting the game and football fans – including kick-off times, which they believe should largely remain at the traditional slot of Saturday afternoon.

The club recently declined a request from the BBC to move their FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie against Sporting Khalsa to accommodate a “brand new BBC Mobile Match of The Day Live experience”, insisting that “football is not a tv gameshow”.

After progressing in the West Midlands at the weekend they were drawn against League One side Chesterfield in the first-round proper, with the game at Broadhurst Park one of several selected for television coverage.

BT Sport will show the tie on the evening of Monday, November 9 – but not after the Football Association forced FC United of Manchester to accept the decision.

A statement release by the club said: “When we were informed of this, the FC United board contacted the FA to inform them of our views, outlining the club’s historical opposition to changing kick off times from their traditional slots as this can be inconvenient to fans and detrimental to the match-day atmosphere.

“Out of all the options, Mondays are potentially the most punitive for supporters. Monday is a working day as is the following day and Monday night football is a TV invention in any case.

“While recognising that TV is important to football, the club also has a stated pledge to seek to change football for the benefit of supporters, without whom the game would not exist.

“Having considered the club’s stated views on this issue as expressed democratically by members, the Board of FC United of Manchester has refused to agree with the move our FA Cup 1st round game against Chesterfield to Monday 9 November 2015.

“The FA has responded this morning to inform us that they insist on the game being moved according to rule 2 and 8.13 in the FA Cup competition rules and therefore we have no option but to hold the match on the Monday evening at 7.45pm.

“We are deeply disappointed by the FA’s stance and have made them aware of this.

“FC United has a proud history of campaigning for change on issues affecting the game and its supporters. The history of that protest has always been about respect for the integrity of the game and not disrupting the match or players. In that spirit, on this issue we believe that we needed to make a stand.”

Meanwhile, just down the road from FC United of Manchester, Salford City FC have also been chosen for television coverage.

The club is owned by former Manchester United stars Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Phil and Gary Neville and they will host Notts County on Friday, November 6.

Co-owner Phil Neville said: “When we bought the club last year we never imagined that we’d reach the FA Cup first round so soon, let alone have a live game on the BBC.

“It’s been fantastic for Ryan, Paul, Nicky, Gary and myself to have been involved in the competition as players, it will be a completely different emotion for us all as owners.

“I’m sure it will be a packed crowd under the lights at Moor Lane next Friday night and we’re all hoping to be there to cheer the boys on. Notts County will obviously start as favourites, but it’s the FA Cup and anything can happen.”

In the other tie to be screened live, Evo-Stik League Southern Division Didcot Town, along with Northwich Victoria the lowest-ranked side in the competition, take on League Two side Exeter on Sunday, November 8.

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