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Horwich RMI's Evolution to Leigh Genesis - The Original Franchise FC

Jul 3, 2008
The gradual demise of Horwich RMI has been phased in since 1995, so it's not surprising that not many people are aware of their demise. The final nail in their coffin has been applied more recently by a 'visionary chairman,' Dominic Speakman. In 1995 they were transformed into Leigh RMI and since June the club have been parading as Leigh Genesis. The launch of Genesis included terms such as "ideas of colour", "core of the new brand", "The alignment of football to fashion" and "a contemporary edge and is unique in the world of football". This is the same visionary chairman that is planning on moving the club, with an average attendance of 250, to a 10,000 seater stadium.

Leigh are not the only town that have bought a football team. The Football League lost a lot of credibility when they allowed Wimbledon to relocate to Milton Keynes. The Football Association distanced themselves from the Wimbledon decision, with the then chief executive, Adam Crozier, describing the decision as 'appalling'. MK Don's first game in the Nationwide League drew an attendance of under 2,500. Disenchanted Wimbledon fans had formed a breakaway club, which attracted a crowd of over 4,500 in the Combined Counties League. It is important to note that MK Dons have done extremely well since the move and they are not really to blame- even if they did buy football league status.

Horwich RMI (Railway Mechanics Institute) were founded in 1986 at the locomotive building works in Horwich. RMI were a non-league club that was uprooted and moved seven miles south to Leigh back in 1995. Horwich's traumatic move to Leigh involved a far greater leap than a mere seven-mile journey south west. Unsigned boundaries were crossed. Horwich is Bolton Wanderers and football; Leigh is Wigan and rugby league. The move included ground-sharing with Leigh Centurians rugby league team. This caused a decline in support from Horwich's disassociated fans. After changing their name to Leigh RMI they were relegated in their first season.

Five years later, Leigh RMI climbed back to the summit of non-league football, the Conference. In 2005 Leigh RMI played the first ever game against FC United of Manchester, the team formed in reaction to the purchase of Manchester United by the Glazer family. Interestingly, Leigh RMI and FC United of Manchester had considered a merger, yet RMI supporters chairman, Peter Low, stated "It would seem hypocritical to some degree, in light of the Glazer events, if a team came into being by taking over another club". Just like Leigh Genesis replacing Horwich RMI maybe?

It was inevitable that the Leigh would eventually drop the RMI (Railway Mechanics Institute) suffix. There isn't even a train station in Leigh! Now the club are residing in the Northern Premier League and have been re-branded Leigh Genesis. However, in wiping out RMI they have erased any trace of Horwich RMI, the original team. The re-branding included changing, not only the name, but also the colour of the football kit. The process that started in 1995 has deleted the Horwich RMI team and replaced it with Speakman's Leigh Genesis.

This is great news for Leigh as they have now got a new football team for the town and the prospect of a move to Leigh Sports Village and a 10,000 all-seater stadium, despite an average attendence of just 250. The 'visionary' also insisted on restricting a key income stream by not having a shirt sponsor in order to display 'Genesis', and spread the brand. They are also becoming full-time, which is unusual for the Northern Premier League. Two teams that attempted this were Grantham Town and Colne Dynamoes. Grantham have only just regained a sound financial footing a decade later, and Colne Dynamoes folded in 1990. Is the future bright? Only if they change their kit to orange.
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