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Page last updated at 12:12 GMT, Thursday, 3 February 2011

Supporters' group launch Cambridge United bid

Paul Barry
U's chairman Paul Barry has invited a fans' proposal

A supporters trust have launched a bid to transform Cambridge United into a community club.

Last month the U's board put the club up for sale owing to escalating costs and invited Cambridge Fans United to help decide the future of their team.

Vice-chairman Robert Osbourn told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire: "As a supporters trust club we would need to be not-for-profit and sustainable.

"We need to involve everyone in this area and not just be about football."

CFU hope to be given the chance to assess the clubs' finances over the coming weeks, but have made it their priority to raise awareness of their intentions.

Director of communications Gary Aytes believes a fan-run club can only work if the local community buy into their vision and provide financial support.

"We've spoken to a number of businesses and potential investors because we need to know how to underpin this, particularly in the short term during the close season," he said.

It has been a turbulent start to 2011 for the U's, both on and off the field with manager Martin Ling being sacked on Tuesday.

Cut-backs have been made and star winger Robbie Willmott was sold to Luton last week.

With the likes of Crawley regularly spending six-figure sums on new players, chairman Paul Barry says the current board can no longer afford to fund the club.

"We felt that with the way this league is going and the spending involved there might be somebody out there with the right intentions and the right finances," he said.

Shares in the U's are only of nominal value, but Barry knows they need to find responsible custodians.

He says there are several ways in which ownership of the club could change.

"If there is a group of people who may want to take over a majority shareholding, that's a strong option," added Barry.

I still believe this club has a bright future, but we need to reset our expectations for the time being

Chairman Paul Barry

"Another option is to have the fans operate the club as a community trust, but that may provide a more limited budget.

"Whilst a third option is to get extra board members on board who could bring finance to the club."

Barry has confirmed that 'seven or eight' interested parties are currently in initial talks about coming on board at the Abbey.

The club's landlords are also in the early stages of relocation the club to a new purpose-built stadium, so despite their recent troubles, Barry has called on fans to remain positive.

"I still believe this club has a bright future, but we need to reset our expectations for the time being," he said.

"We need to ensure the long-term survival of the club and only then can we think about climbing back upwards."

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