Fans of Manchester United and Liverpool are united in the belief that board-level representation is finally within their grasp, and Liverpool supporters are expected to meet club chief Billy Hogan this week to discuss plans.
Gatley senior financier and former government advisor Baron O’Neill also believes that the regulatory changes in English football mean there is more chance than ever that the Glazers will sell United.
The parties meet today at Old Trafford against the backdrop of significant supporters’ protests. And groups of fans of both clubs have been working together for years to oppose the US ownership model imposed on English clubs – even before the Super League fiasco last week brought them together. The clubs are key members of the supporter-led coalition that helped galvanize the idea by lobbying the prime minister.
Manchester United fans believe board-level representation is finally within their grasp
Liverpool supporters are also hoping for the representation of fans at board level
While Liverpool owner Fenway Sports Group has significantly more dialogue and support among Liverpool fans, there seems to be no turning back for the trust of United’s owners’ supporters, led by Joel Glazer.
Ed Woodward, United’s executive chairman who announced his resignation in the wake of the Super League collapse, is said to be visibly shocked by the brutality of the supporters ‘anger at a fans’ forum he attended last Friday.
The level of coordination of the fan groups and their access to the Prime Minister, who threatened to drop a “legislative bomb” on the Super League, seemed to surprise John W. Henry and Joel Glazer.
Now both billionaire owners are faced with adapting to a radically changed political landscape in the UK, with former Sports Secretary Tracey Crouch leading the fan-led overhaul of football.
United fan Jim O’Neill, whose full title is Baron O’Neill and who led the Red Knights bid to oust the Glazers in 2010, said: ‘The odds of some sort of legislation are no longer zero. It’s probably wise not to get carried away.
Liverpool fans are expected to meet with CEO Billy Hogan this week to discuss plans
“But I thought that would change the probability of people like John W Henry and the Glazers about why they own these things.
Moreover, because of the magnitude of the self-inflicted [harm caused by their] Presenting the Super League, you have to consider that the chances of a Super League in the next decade, something these guys have clearly been planning for a long time, has diminished.
That means these guys have to either think about a different reality as to why they own these things, or be a little more interested in getting out of it than before.
Plus, being in the world of those who hang around doing football deals, I actually know that Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool have all been and remain in the game at the right price for the past two or three years. . So I can only believe that’s more likely now in those three cases. ‘
United and all of England’s Big Six clubs have now been expelled from the Premier League working groups, meaning they have no influence on new broadcast deals, other than through the single vote they have. They also resigned from the European Clubs’ Association pending the Super League.
An ex-government adviser thinks the Glazers are more likely than ever to sell United
Still, the ECA will now work with UEFA to decide which of the controversial 2024 Champions League reforms to keep, meaning that they have no de facto say in the future of European football until 2027.
“I thought that was hugely important to the Glazers,” said O’Neill.
Unlike the Green and Gold campaign against the Glazers in 2010, which faded when no offers were made, Duncan Drasdo, chief executive of the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust and one of the fans who met Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week, said that these new protests cannot be ignored by the Glazers.
“I don’t think there is a chance of that,” said Drasdo. ‘From what we hear there will be movement. I don’t think it will be radical enough. I imagine they will try to do something that sounds good but doesn’t address the real issues. There is recognition among fans that this is the problem. For years there were fans defending the property, but I haven’t heard that.
It’s been eight years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and people have made the connection. At the time I said it was Year Zero for Glazer’s property because then you judged what they brought to the party rather than what he [Sir Alex] did. He had kept the machine running by oiling it, but not replacing the parts for so long.
Liverpool’s owner John W Henry and Fenway Sports Group have significantly more dialogue with fans than the Glazers
‘I can’t imagine they will be accepted unless they have done something that has at least outnumbered their share. Just the legislative bomb line [from the Prime Minister] was so powerful. It’s such a good sound bite that it will come back to bite you if you don’t deliver. While that was about the Super League, everyone will associate it with football in general, so legislation has to come out of the review. ‘
Liverpool’s main fan groups are coordinating their response under the banner of the highly respected Spirit of Shankly group.
They are calling for fan representation on the board and a gold share to block controversial future changes. The group is likely to have their first meetings with Liverpool next week.
SOS chairman Joe Blott said: “The mood music is encouraging. Obviously, the devil is in the details. Gathering around the table and having the opportunity to air and debate those proposals is something that is welcome.
Ed Woodward would be visibly shocked by the savagery of fan fury on a fans forum
There is an expectation of national changes to legislation and the way fans are represented on the board. That will take a while to filter through. In the meantime, we think Liverpool can rediscover its value base and commitment to fans it lost last week.
‘You can do that by doing something that is a template for future clubs. Last week was what appears to be an annual disastrous event for FSG. But there are some improvements they have made to the football club in terms of staff on the field, in management and leadership in Jurgen Klopp’s terms, in the structure of our stadium and the network behind it in terms of the new complex in Kirkby.
“We know they are trying to get the club on a better footing. They just have to do that with the fans and not as an afterthought. ‘
Former Sports Secretary Tracey Crouch leads the government’s fan-led review of football