It was probably the most important general meeting since that first flicker of an idea which sparked FC United of Manchester into life over a decade ago. The packed function room at Broadhurst Park certainly hinted at that. And yet, the meeting was over before it had even started.
2015-16 ought to have been a season of celebration for FC United. The supporter-owned club finally playing league fixtures at their own home in the lofty heights of the Vanarama National League North. But things have turned sour. The FC United spring General Meeting was set to take place today amid a bitter backdrop of disenchantment on a myriad of issues affecting the club.
The run up to the meeting had been fraught, to say the least. Daniel Taylor of The Guardian recently lifted the lid for the outside world to peer into – although many of these issues had been festering for some time. What they saw was a growing feeling among the supporters (read as: co-owners) that the club was abandoning its original principles.a
There has been growing discontent about board members and their decisions, club membership rules, a supporter “code of conduct” and the use of club money and a number of other issues. All of these will have ensured a packed room. Last month’s standing-down of General Manager Andy Walsh and several resignations from board members in the run up to the meeting will only have served to boost the numbers even more.
It was soon clear to see that the function room based in the main stand of Broadhurst Park was clearly not big enough to house the large numbers of co-owners who wanted to be in attendance.
The queues were long, but there was plenty of reading material as leaflets which set out the story from outside of the board were handed out to members. Once inside, a call for respect for each other was made – and agreed on – although the meeting quickly descended into farce.
The first issue of the day was for the board to announce that they were unable to provide an independent scrutineer to watch over proceedings. Administrators from the club office were put forward to act in place of an indepenent – it was a move which virtually everyone in attendance agreed with, although not without some amount of disappointment being aired that such an important requirement should be missed. (In fact, the pair would be seen to be acting true to that role just a short while later.)
Once that had been agreed on, there were a couple of hands raised in order to grab the roving microphone and offer some comment to the room prior to the meeting proper. A call to “bring back the love” provided light relief before another member raised a concern which would, ultimately, ensure that the FC United General Meeting would be adjourned.
This member, her husband, and her in-laws had all thought they would be unable to attend the meeting. They, therefore, posted their votes in the provided ballot box at the last home game versus Stalybridge Celtic. In the end, she could attend but her in-laws could not. However, she was perplexed to find that, when registering on entry today, she was handed ballot papers. She and her family had not been marked down as having voted already.
Whether this was just a case of names being “ticked-off” incorrectly on the list of postal voters or not, this clearly meant that there could be a situation where votes might be missed. It could even raise the possibility of incidences of double voting.
It was left to one of the appointed independent scrutineers to confirm that – as he would not be in a position to ratify that double-voting had occurred, nor what had happened to the member’s postal vote – there ought to be a move to adjourn.
On this occasion, there was no division amongst the ranks. We await news of another date.