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Looking for Laverty ??? film writer talks to FC United

"Football isn’t just a commodity. It touches us in all sorts of complex ways. It’s about our childhood, about our parents or grandparents, our memories, about our mates who did daft things on the way to matches, about sheer elation or bitter disappointment."

Looking For Eric writer, Paul Laverty knows that football is about more than just football. "It’s about the past and our hopes for the future. It’s about the need for excitement, wonder, escapism, ’out of the ordinary’ moments in our routines. Images of magic, shock, or even comedy are ingrained in our minds forever.

"I’ll never forget the laughter of Celtic fans, not cheers, when Tony Cascarino finally scored his first fluky goal after months and months. So how the hell can all that be ’sold’?! It really sticks in the throat."

After being approached to write a script for Ken Loach and Eric Cantona, Laverty says he was keen to involve FC United in some way. He says: "You always have to be loyal to the premise, and the characters, otherwise the whole story falls apart. So you just can’t work in ’issues’ or things that obsess or fascinate you just because you feel like it. But right from the beginning I had an eye out for FC United and wondered if I could make sense of what they stood for within the confines of the story.

"As I wandered round Manchester and spoke to people before writing the script I met lots of people who could no longer afford to go to the games, never mind bring their kids.

"I remember once I had a long chat with a worker at the left luggage in the station. He came alive as he remembered seeing Cantona in the flesh and laughed at the idea of being able to go to Old Trafford now.

"There has been a sea change in those who attend football matches, how TV dictates, and who owns the clubs. It seems so patently obvious that supporters should own their own clubs and take responsibility for them.

"David Conn’s book the The Football Business is terrific at unpicking the fat cats within the game and the world of TV and business who made this disgraceful framework possible.

"But it is one thing to complain, and quite another to form a club from scratch - even though they (FC United founders) took the soul with them! I love the cheek of that idea. It is a Herculean task but many people came together and had enough talent and determination to pull it off.

"In addition, I was really taken by the idea of one person, one vote, irrespective of wealth, and FC United’s commitment to the local community. How can you not respect that?

"So I suppose I have great respect and sympathy for the United fans who felt their club had been taken from them. It still amazes me how a wonderful club like United can be loaded with debt and taken over by people who have no connection with the club for the purpose of making a profit."

And this is a question that Laverty has faced whilst promoting Looking For Eric around the world. He said: "There has been lots of questions from football fans who want to know what happened.

"The film is just about to be the gala opening film at the Valladolid film festival in October. It has general release in Spain on the 27th of November. I suspect there will be many football fans in Spain who will wonder how United could be taken over like that? How Liverpool too ended up with a pair of money grasping clowns. How Chelsea is in the hands of a man who made fortunes from privatisation, while those resources he now controls rightfully belong to impoverished Russian communities.

"It would be unimaginable for a team like Barcelona to be taken over like that. ’How was this framework created to allow this to happen?’ is the really interesting question."

And it’s a question that will be debated for many years to come with different sides of the argument. The full, unedited interview with Paul Laverty can be found in the match day programme when FC United play Buxton at Gigg Lane on Saturday 7th November.

Looking For Eric is released on DVD on Monday 12th October and is available to order from the club shop now by clicking here.

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First Posted ~ 16:16 Sat 10 Oct 2009
News ID ~ 2466
Last Updated ~ 12:56 Mon 21 May 2018