Why it's time for change at Manchester United
Background Image via: David Dixon/Geograph. CC BY-SA 2.0.
16th May, 2005. A bleak day in the history of Manchester United Football Club. The Glazer family would raise their stake in the Old Trafford outfit to 75.7%, making them majority owners. Less than a month later, they'd own United outright.
Reds supporters have made their voices heard since day one. Make no mistake about it, this isn't about an underperforming side, rather, the crux of the issue is far more deep-rooted than that. We're talking about owners who almost immediately placed this club into debt for the first time since 1931. The Glazers' intentions were clear from the get-go; milk Manchester United for every penny they had.
Protest-after-protest, green and gold scarves swirling in the Manchester wind with increasing frequency, the Glazer family refused to bat an eyelid. Heck, even David Beckham made his feelings pretty clear in the public domain. The Glazers, no doubt loving life in their Floridian beach house, wouldn't let it spoil their brunch that day.
United's issue with the Glazers never went away, though there was undoubtedly a lull in fan furore purely due to the supporters having very little to show for their actions. Fast-forward to 2021, when the #GlazerOut campaign would spark back into life.
Ah, the European Super League. Some select, self-proclaimed elite clubs would take it a step too far. They'd propose a closed shop without any threat of relegation for themselves or promotion for others. They'd sell it as this big, bold tournament during which you can watch the-best-of-the-best take each other on every week. Thankfully, the footballing community would see it for what it was; sheer greed. We've been there and done that with the ESL, you all know what it's about, so let's just leave it at that.
In the aftermath of the ESL's derailing, Edward Woodward would hand in his resignation. Coincidence? I think not. As (sir) Garvy Neville aptly put it, the trunk of the tree was now gone. It's time to go for the roots. The cowering Glazers, fronted by Joel, would release the shoddiest of statements, which is only the second time they've directly addressed Manchester United fans, I'll add. Joel couldn't bring himself to apologise directly, rather pussyfoot around the matter, telling fans how he and his family will work hard to win back supporters' trust. Well, Joel, you have to realise, fans never trusted you in the first place, so winning it back is literally impossible.
Clarity goes an awfully long way. As you can see from the video below, the Glazer family have always been as clear as mud with the Old Trafford faithful. Never once have they fronted up to anything, instead, they just hide away, remain silent and continue to collect their dividends (which now totals over £125m). Yes, they're the only club in the world that pay their owners in dividends every year.
Sure, I get it, football is a business. The objective of any owner is to make money. All we fans ask for is that we're thought about somewhere along the line. The Glazers have always viewed supporters as a mere afterthought. In any walk of life, in any business, in any country that's just downright despicable.
It would all come to a head this past Sunday. United fans, in their thousands, would storm Old Trafford and block team coaches at a hotel. The final outcome? United vs Liverpool, the biggest game in English football, would be postponed. Now I'd like to make it clear, I'm absolutely against some of the disgusting scenes that we saw at the Theatre of Dreams that day, though peacefully protesting is the right of every single person in this country. Every man, woman and child deserve to have their voices heard.
Supporters have realised the only language these cowboys speak is money, the only colour they care about is green. They're starting to hit the Glazers where it hurts. Fans have now started to boycott sponsors, leaving negative reviews online, with new shirt sponsor Team Viewer copping plenty of flak. Make no mistake about it, as soon as United share prices start to drop, coupled with some angry companies getting in touch over a loss revenue and negative ratings, the Glazers will start to take notice.
Will it be enough for them to sell up? Who knows? I'm not going to sit here and tell you that any prospective new owners will do a better job, but United fans have had enough of this current regime. The protests will only grow from here as this movement has never been louder. Shirt sales will drop, season ticket numbers will dwindle and in turn, so will the sponsors.
This has to be just the start. There's only so many knockbacks any human can take before they can no longer get back up and keep fighting. Protests before every game, green and gold all over the stadium. The fans have every right to try and take back what is theirs, while they absolutely should be encouraged with what's happened over the last few weeks. The footballing world has shown what they can achieve when they all come together and it's time to strike while the iron is hot.