This week on Wednesday 25th October, member-run club AKS Zły will welcome breakaway fan-owned club FC United of Manchester to Warsaw for the latest round of matches of the Fenix Trophy.
Both clubs need little introduction to the SD Europe network. AKS Zły (Zły meaning bad in Polish), based in Warsaw, were established just seven years ago out of discontent at how Polish clubs were run and supported. A group of supporters came together to form a new progressive and inclusive club for all, democratically run by its members. AKS Zły quickly gained attention for its work and was announced as the UEFA Grassroots Club of the Year in 2019.
Whilst FC United of Mancehster’s story of being a breakaway club following discontent towards the owners of Manchester United is one that has received international attention. FC United were also project partners in SD Europe’s ‘Clubs & Supporters For Better Governance In Football’.
Despite being almost 2,100 kilometers apart and having taken very different paths to their current positions, AKS Zły and FC United share a synergy of values not just related to their supporter-ownership models. Both prioritise sporting opportunity on the pitch, and use their positions as football clubs to catalyse community benefit off the pitch.
AKS Zły, the hosts of Wednesday’s fixture, have sculpted a welcoming atmosphere born out of its values of tolerance, openness and equality. In recent months, AKS Zły and its supporters have organised initiatives to support refugee families from Belarus by collecting clothes and school materials, and support to asylum seekers from Afghanistan through a fundraiser for professional legal and psychological support.
Meanwhile in Manchester, FC United work hard to ensure the club’s local people are at the heart of what it does. The club looks after those in its community who need help by operating a ‘FoodHub’ out its stadium offering fresh food, clean clothes and on occasion shelter for those in most need. Last year during the height of the pandemic, the club also ran a ‘Food Bank’ to support the families who had been hit the hardest.
Driven by the priorities of their members, AKS Zły and FC United of Manchester deliver on being true ‘community clubs’. As a direct result of both club’s democratic nature and inclusive ownership, they create a tangible sense of belonging driven by their members and supporters through their community-centric actions which matter most to them.
Whatever the score in their Fenix Trophy match, both clubs are winners in our view! Good luck to AKS Zły and FC United!