MANCHESTER, England – It is generally accepted that any authority involved in the failed attempt of 12 clubs to form a European Super League last month misjudged the mood of their team’s fans – and those of many others – before hastily plugging in the whole idea. However, no one moved the hornet’s nest, like the Glaser family, which owns Manchester United.
Supporters have always been suspicious of the Glazers’ motives since taking control in 2005, believing they were driven purely by money and the ability to use the club’s brand’s trading power.
As such, their participation in the bondage of the Super League simply confirms these suspicions and deepens their unpopularity. The shocking events on Sunday at Old Trafford, when protesting fans forced the postponement of the Premier League match against Liverpool, offered a clear example of deep-rooted enmity
While protests after the Super League elsewhere were generally peaceful, failed secession plans simply poured salt into existing wounds at United and sparked a riot that led to the fixture considered the biggest game in England because, according to the Premier League. league, it created “a dangerous situation that should not have a place in football.”
– In photos: The protest of the fans leads to a postponement
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And it was dangerous; A statement from Manchester police, published after confirmation of the delay, revealed that an employee needed urgent hospital treatment after receiving a “significant facial wound” from a thrown bottle. Police added that “bottles and barriers” are thrown at horses and employees of United should be “shut in rooms” as protesters violated security cordon at Old Trafford
Images of the protest, released in the days before the match, saw fans launching rockets at the United team’s hotel before up to 200 were forced into the stadium and the pitch, where they climbed the poles, stole corner flags and soccer balls and entered in the tunnel area and locker rooms, which saw the breached COVID-19 protocols in the biosecurity red area.
While the problems flared up, the players of United and Liverpool remained hidden in their hotels, and neither of them managed to make the short trip to Old Trafford.
United supporters’ antipathy to the Glazers dates back 16 years, when the Florida-based family plunged the club into a £ 540 million debt with a lever takeover. There was a protest at the time, warning that such a ownership model would cost club money to service loans rather than acquire star players.
Brothers Glaser Avram, Joel and Brian needed a police escort to escape a group of more than 100 angry Old Trafford fans in the days after the takeover, and supporters have since outraged the owners. In fact, some simply stopped following United, as a group in protest formed a non-league team FC United from Manchester.
However, many remain loyal and before the pandemic the club boasted the highest average attendance in the Premier League, with more than 75,000 consecutively attending home matches. And therein lies the contradiction – despite their disregard for those in charge, fans still appear in the thousands and the Glazers know it.
Conservative estimates suggest debt payments and stock dividends have taken more than £ 1bn from the Glazer-owned club, figures that contrast with the actions of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has poured in more than £ 1bn. GBP in United’s neighbors after buying the club in 2008.
In 2009-10, United fans tried to drive the Glazers away with a Green and Gold campaign based on the colors of Newton Heath, the club that grew into United in the early 20th century. The goal was to force the Americans to sell to the Red Knights, a group of wealthy United fans, but despite David Beckham – then a Milan player but a United legend – wearing a green and gold scarf in an apparent show of support, the movement ended.
The Glazers, who have owned the 1995 NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers, rode the storm and did the same with others and will attend United’s games regularly before the pandemic. A source told ESPN that they are not concerned about hostility and are unlikely to sell because of the prestige they give their owners.
Their supporters – and they don’t have many – will claim to have always supported their managers with funds for new signatures. Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, United’s net cost for new players is £ 742 million; City alone (£ 864.5 million) has spent more among English clubs.
But the lack of communication with supporters, combined with the lack of success on the field after Ferguson, led to increased hostility to the Glazers. The announcement earlier this year that Avram was selling shares worth £ 70 million, with none of the proceeds going back to the club, only added weight to fans’ claims that they were in it just for the money.
Against this background, the plans of the Super League turned out to be the last straw for the fans who took matters into their own hands on Sunday. With a new impetus, long years of resentment, anger and disappointment reached a boiling point.
With high-ranking figures such as former United captain Gary Neville, who condemned the Glazers as “cleaners” after the revelations, Liverpool’s game was defined as the perfect stage to remind the world of their determination to force the owners out.
United fans want not just a change of ownership, but a reform of football management to ensure that supporters of all clubs can have a voice on issues such as ticket prices and launch times, and to prevent unscrupulous owners from taking responsibility. for clubs that have been rooted in communities for over 100 years.
But apart from the short-term impact of Sunday’s protests, they will not force the Glazers to sell United and this creates a problem for the club and the Premier League. If fans can’t get what they want, there is a risk of violence and a break on Sunday again.
There is no obvious middle step or compromise that could see the two sides reach a truce, and so, after a day of embarrassing scenes and images, England’s most glamorous device was canceled amid the sound of glass breaking and the roar of an angry crowd.
No one appears with a heightened reputation and all parties are harmed.