The pioneering Community Shares scheme issued by FC United of Manchester has broken through the £1million mark - less than three months after it was launched.
The shares scheme was launched by the supporter-owned club to help generate investment in its proposed new community stadium at Ten Acres Lane in Newton Heath.
The club aims to raise £1.5million towards the 5,000-capacity, £3.5million stadium through the shares scheme, with the rest coming from grant funding and donations.
"We still have some way to go but to have raised more than £1million in shares is a phenomenal achievement," said FC United general manager Andy Walsh.
"A further £200,000 has been pledged to date and although we still have to turn these pledges into cash, we can say we are now on the home straight with the shares offer."
The news of the milestone caps an extraordinary few weeks for the Evo-Stik Premier club, which was set up in summer 2005 by Manchester United supporters and currently groundshares with Bury FC at Gigg Lane.
FC United reached an FA Cup second round replay in front of a record home attendance against League One Brighton, having knocked out Rochdale in the first round - with the feat watched by a global audience on television.
Manchester City Council granted planning permission for the stadium development at the end of November and the club’s current membership of more than 3,000 is higher than at any time since it was founded.
"Our progress shows support is growing for our campaign to see football clubs owned and run by supporters and is a tremendous tribute to the efforts of everybody at FC United," added Andy.
"We are now working hard pulling together our grant applications. It is an extremely competitive process but we have some great support from partners and hope that the funding bodies will recognise our submissions as strong bids that will bring real economic benefit to Newton Heath."
The main aim of the Community Shares Scheme is to enable people to participate as shareholders in funding the community facilities that will be built as part of the stadium development. This will deliver new sports, social and function facilities to Newton Heath, an area which faces significant social and economic challenges.
Although shareholders will not receive interest payments or be able to withdraw their investments for the first three years after the club moves into the new stadium, the tax breaks together with the potential to pay interest after that make this an attractive offer for those who care about the future of football, and social investors in general.
The scheme is unique in football as it allows capital investment without affecting FC United’s "one member, one vote" cooperative ownership structure. Investors can purchase £1 shares to a value ranging from £200 up to £20,000.
In November, HM Revenue & Customs gave advance assurance that those who buy £500 of shares can claim 20% back against tax under the Enterprise Investment Scheme.
Community shares cannot be traded or transferred like normal shares, but shareholders who want to withdraw their investment can apply to have their funds returned from the fourth year onwards. Subject to board agreement, the club will allow not more than 10 per cent of the total share capital to be withdrawn in any one year.
The offer is open to individuals aged 16 and over, and businesses. All shareholders must be members of FC United but non-members can join at the time of application. The offer closes on February 28 2011. Full details of the scheme are in the club’s offer document or visit: www.fc-utd.co.uk/communityshares
NOTES TO EDITORS
Community Shares are shares issued for a community purpose. The concept has been developed through a joint initiative of the Development Trusts Association and Co-operativesUK with support from the Department for Communities and Local Government. For further information see www.communityshares.org.uk.
Terms of Offer
The share offer is exempt from the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 or subsidiary regulations because FC United is a community benefit society and the money raised will be used for community purposes. The legal terms of the offer are set out in the offer document which also contains other important information which potential buyers should read carefully.
FC United was founded in 2005 and is a semi-professional football club, currently playing in the Northern Premier League. The club regularly attracts crowds of more than 2,000, several times the league average. It is unique at its level of English football in having its obligations to its fan communities and local communities written into its Club Objects. The club was awarded Cooperative UK’s Cooperative Excellence Award in 2009 for its cutting edge work with local communities.