Andy Walsh, general manager of supporter-owned football club FC United of Manchester, has announced that he is to step down from his role at the end of June 2016 after what will be 11 years at the helm.
Walsh has been general manager since the club was formed in 2005 by Manchester United supporters after the Glazer family’s take-over of their club.
During his time as general manager, FC United has established itself as a successful semi-professional non-league football club, winning four promotions and now playing two leagues below the football league in the National League North. Working closely with the club’s elected board, Walsh led the project to finance and develop FC United’s new stadium and community facility at Broadhurst Park in Manchester, which saw supporters raise half of the new ground’s £6.3m cost from a ground-breaking community share scheme and other social financing initiatives.
Walsh has also overseen the rise of the club’s membership to more than 5,000 co-owners, making FC United the largest supporter-owned football club in the UK. The club, which is wholly owned by FC United supporters, is widely seen as an exemplar for supporter ownership and the co-op movement, and its successful community work has won a number of national awards.
Commenting on his decision to step down as general manager, Walsh said: “It has been an immense privilege to have been general manager of FC United. Together, as a club we have shown that football can be run in a different way, by ordinary supporters, who have the ability if given the chance to do extraordinary things. Supporter ownership is a real, viable and sustainable alternative to established ownership models in the game that give little or no voice to supporters. FC United is living proof that football fans can make a difference when they are empowered and have a vision of a better way forward.”
Continuing Walsh said. “I remain fully committed to the club and will continue to be actively involved. The recent members’ survey confirmed that the club’s establishment as a community benefit society and our founding manifesto from 2005 commands the support of over 90% of the club’s membership. Our achievements are testimony to the selfless graft and sacrifice of thousands of supporters, fighting for something that they believe in. We may have our detractors but the vision of the steering committee that set the club up has stood the test of time.”
Walsh continued: “We have achieved much already and there is more still to do to strengthen supporter involvement in FC United and build supporter-ownership more widely. I have said for some time that the establishment of the ground marked a milestone in the club’s development and having delivered on that task I believe that now is a good time to consider playing a different role at the club. We have a magnificent facility that I know our members are very proud of and one that is the envy of many other clubs. I feel privileged to have played a part in making that happen.”
Concluding Walsh said: “Over the past ten years I have been closely involved in building the club, its structures and influence and I very much want to continue that in a different capacity. I have enjoyed working closely with the club’s board, staff and volunteers and I believe that I still have something valuable to contribute. As the club moves into a new era in its own ground with an expanding community profile, the future looks bright for FC United and I’m looking forward to playing a role in that successful future.”
The club’s board thanked Walsh for his work during the past eleven years.
A statement read “The FC United Board would like to thank Andy for the tireless work and dedication that he has shown to the club since its inception. It is no exaggeration to say that without his leadership and management skills the club would not be in the enviable position that it is today in fantastic facilities that will allow it to continue to grow for the benefit of members, supporters and the wider communities of Greater Manchester.
The recruitment process for a new general manager will begin shortly and Walsh will continue to work with the club until his successor is appointed”