At least Ed Woodward apologized. And at least he came to the fans’ forum on Friday to hear what Manchester United supporters had to say about him and the club’s ridiculous involvement in the European Super League. None of it was complimentary, but Woodward was there to listen to it. That’s more than can be said about Joel Glazer or any of the families that own England’s most famous club.
There will be no fans at Old Trafford on Sunday when United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, but there is plenty outside. Of course, it is hoped that the planned demonstration against the Glazer regime and everything it stands for goes without violence or disorder, but it is time for the club to recognize the anger of the fans and do something about it.
Experience shows that this will not happen. The Glazers are not interested in the fans. They don’t care. So Sunday’s demonstration is important, but it needs to be backed up by a real overhaul of a broken system that allowed our game to be hijacked in the first place by owners like the Glazers. English football needs an independent regulator and more safeguards are needed. It’s time for fans and the history of their clubs to get some protection.
Rivals Manchester United and Liverpool meet in an unusual background on Sunday afternoon
The pair meet for the first time since their billionaire owners tried to sell their souls
This is a big weekend for the club that dominated English football in the 1990s and 2000s. If United lose to Liverpool, Manchester City, the team that once existed in their shadow, will be crowned champions again with four games of the season to spare and United will spend another summer toast to the ghosts of yesteryear.
Thursday is the return match of a Europa League semi-final against Roma, which brings with it the expectation of progressing to the final and the possibility of a first trophy for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has cleaned up some of the mess that has left him bequeathed. Jose Mourinho. But there is little he can do about the men in charge.
The demonstration outside Old Trafford on Sunday, which is expected to attract thousands of supporters, is not only a sign of renewed anger towards owners who have taken an estimated £ 200 million in dividends from the club since loading £ 540 million in loans for what was a debt-free club when they launched their acquisition in 2005.
United’s initial entry into the European Super League has sparked a wave of fans calling for change
It’s not just a demonstration meant to call attention to the fact that the Glazers takeover has cost the club over £ 1.5 billion in interest, fees, refinancing fines and other dead money over the past 16 years. The Glazers have milked United like a cash cow and watched as the team slid to mediocrity on the field. If United wins the Europa League, it will be a boost to Solskjaer and a sign of some progress, but it could also serve to focus the mind on the fact that United are still not competing for the biggest trophies in the game.
Above all, the demonstration outside Old Trafford will be an acknowledgment that United’s struggle on the field is now secondary to the struggle they face to get rid of their owners. The Glazers contaminate everything at Old Trafford. United’s rich history is stifled by the Glazers’ greed. The willingness of the billionaire owners of our leading clubs to join the ESL and destroy the rest of the English game crystallized many things in the minds of football fans in this country.
It was a groundbreaking moment that showed their willingness to sacrifice not only the rest of the England game, but also the history of their own clubs in the hunt for more money. “We are disgusted, ashamed and angry about the owner’s actions in relation to the planning, formation and announcement of the European Super League,” said the letter read to Woodward by the Manchester United Fans’ Forum.
The much-maligned Glazer family have failed to get the fans on board since they bought the club
The greed of the Americans has emptied the club and tarnished its rich and remarkable history
‘It was an assault on fans and clubs all over football and we just have had enough … We don’t need to explain to anyone involved in owning or running Manchester United why the European Cup is an integral part of the history of our club and how this proposal has betrayed it. ‘
Woodward has announced his intention to leave Old Trafford at the end of the season, but supporters can now see more clearly that United will never be whole and never heal until the Glazers have given up their hold on England’s greatest club. They have taken too much and given too little.
United fans have expressed their feelings before. Some were so disappointed with the Glazers takeover that in 2005 they formed their own breakaway club, FC United or Manchester. The club now competes in the Northern Premier League, the seventh tier of the English football pyramid.
United fans will re-mobilize although not expected to rid the club of the greedy Glazers
United fans also mobilized through the Green and Gold campaign, which peaked in 2010 but faded afterward. All this has left the Glazers secluded in Florida, largely impervious to criticism. Until 2013, they were protected from some of the opposition by the continued performance of the team led by Sir Alex Ferguson.
The problem they face now is that the ugliness of ESL setbacks has mobilized the entire English game against them and their fellow billionaire owners. Demonstrations like Sunday’s won’t bring down the Glazers on their own, but they will serve as a reminder to the government of all that’s wrong with the English game.
The Glazers and the other billionaire owners who hijacked our leading clubs crossed the Rubicon when they joined the ESL. Part of their warped legacy to our game is that Sunday’s game between English football’s two biggest clubs and its most bitter rivals brought their fans together in a show of disgust. No wonder they say enough is enough.
Who would go to Spurs?
It should hardly come as a surprise that Brendan Rodgers doesn’t jump in his car and head straight down the M1 in his eagerness to take the Spurs track.
The hard truth for Tottenham fans is that if Rodgers decides to leave Leicester soon, he could do a lot better than Spurs. Spores are skin-colored to begin with. They have a beautiful new stadium, but paying for it already brings enormous financial pressure.
Unsurprisingly, Brendan Rodgers didn’t jump on the Tottenham Hotspur vacancy
Managers who work within the financial constraints caused by paying for a new stadium are hardly ever thanked for it: just ask Arsene Wenger.
Spurs, under Daniel Levy, have also become synonymous with a club that lacks ambition on the field.
That’s why they lost Mauricio Pochettino when Pochettino told them to rebuild the team. That’s why they made the disastrous move of vanity project to appoint Jose Mourinho. That is why a large number of managers ran straight into the arms of other suitors as soon as Spurs called. It looks like their best player, Harry Kane, wants to leave in the summer. The squad has yet to be rebuilt. Fans are disappointed with Levy and the owner, Joe Lewis.
Spurs, led by Daniel Levy, has become synonymous with a club with no ambition
Rodgers could do much better than the money-strapped, directionless North Londoners
The club made themselves a symbol of everything wrong with the Super League when they were admitted, even though they haven’t won the national league title in 50 years. It became a joke when it was mocked by one of its own sponsors.
“Spursy” gets new currency as an abbreviation for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Mourinho has left behind a divided, unhappy group of players, as he so often does. And chances are Spurs are about to miss the Champions League. Other than that, Brendan, it would be a great move.
Boycott on social media shows power in the collective
I have adhered to the social media boycott mobilized by the sports industry over the Bank Holiday weekend. It’s not that I think I can exert much influence, but if there’s power in such a thing, it’s in the power of the collective. And as a cause, it is a good idea.
The abuse targeting high-profile sports figures on social media platforms, especially ethnic minority and female people, is unnecessary and disgusting and cowardly and spew out any gesture that even makes these companies rethink how to better combat the level of hate abuse can only be a good thing.
The boycott of social media this weekend underscores the power in the collective
Regardless, being away from Twitter for a few days isn’t exactly a chore. Like most people who have even the mildest opinion of football, I’ve become a bit of a connoisseur of self-abuse.
I’ve been called a nonce so many times, I’ve become an expert in etymology. I even found it to be an acronym (Not On Normal Courtyard Exercise, if you’re interested).