In 2005 supporters’ anger at the Glazer family’s leveraged buyout faded into apathy. Not so today. The recent bond issue has created real anger, with supporters’ green and gold revolution “spreading like a virus” throughout the Manchester United community. Fans can do their bit to end the Glazer scourge on a great football institution:
1: Step up the protest
Make no mistake David Gill, Sir Alex Ferguson and the Glazer family hear United’s supporters now. Yes, the triumvirate is prone to pedaling disinformation, dismissing fans’ concerns, or simply not caring but that makes the ‘green and gold’ campaign even more important. Saturday, BBC Football Focus featured United’s plight, while the Guardian, Times, Telegraph, FT and Independent has each covered the bond issue and subsequent revelations of financial skullduggery in-depth. Media coverage must continue and that means you – yes you the fans – joining in the green and gold revolution so there is no doubt about the strength of supporters’ anger.
2: Boycott commercial merchandise
It is easy to dismiss the idea of a boycott, after all football fans are what economists like to call ‘price inelastic’. In layman’s terms, supporters will keep coming even when the price goes up because loyalty is a powerful drug. But there is a limit and the wallet is where fans can hurt Glazer the most. While more than 30,000 United fans have given up their season tickets since 2005, many others bought them in their stead. Commercial revenue is essential to the Glazers’ business model and remember this: of every £1 you spend in the club shop, the Glazers will take out 79p to pay interest, debt, hand themselves dividends and their companies’ management fees.
3: Write to United’s commercial partners
The club’s commercial partners pay United to leverage the brand of the world’s most famous football club. Will they still do this if supporters’ disquiet is displayed at every turn? More to the point – should the fans let United’s commercial partners know that they will not buy sponsors’ products or services until the Glazers have left the club, commercial partners will listen.
Gregory C. Case, President and Chief Executive Officer
200 East Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60601 USA
Jessie Chang, Chief Executive
No.58 West Road
North 4th Ring Road
Beijing, 100080, China
Oh Se-hoon, Mayor
(Hi Seoul, Soul of Asia)
Seoul 100-110, Republic of Korea
Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management
Jean-Claude Biver, chief executive
Chemin de la Vuarpillière 33
Case postale 2464
1260 Nyon, Switzerland
Temel Kotil, chief executive
Ataturk Havalimani Yesilkoy
Istanbul 34830 Turkey
Andrew Black, founder
The Sporting Exchange Limited (Betfair)
London, England W6 9HP
Dave Peacock, chief executive
One Busch Place
St. Louis, MO 63118 USA
Jong Ho Kim, president and chief executive
Kumho Tire Co, Ltd.
4: Join MUST
With more than 44,000 members the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust is both a serious and well organised group committed to bringing greater fan ownership to the club. Divided we fail, organised we succeed. E-membership is free so there are no excuses.
5: Sign the petition
We the undersigned, ask you the Prime Minster, to pull your bloody finger out etc. It is the business of government to make sure that business and consumer interests are aligned and functioning. It is not enough to argue that football is just like any other organisation, subject to the vagaries of the market. Government has intervened in the nation’s favourite sport before and there are special provisions enshrined in European law regarding player contracts and media rights.
Sign the petition here.
6: Talk to your MP / MEP
There is a general election coming before the end of May and politicians want your vote. Bring up your concerns and demand legislative action to prevent leveraged buyouts in football through special dispensation in law. Do this not only for United but all teams. The Glazer family, together with owners at Portsmouth, Liverpool and Notts County have brought the game into disrepute, tarnished the industry and heaped misery on some of the sports’ oldest and most cherished clubs. Plus Liverpool.
7: Buy some debt
The original bond offering at a £50,000 minimum spend fell outside the reach of most fans’ pockets. But you can now openly buy bonds on the market and the Glazers, for once, must pay you interest, twice annually. Save your returns for a (potential) investment in shares once United is on the market.
8: Let Sir Alex Ferguson know what you think
Ferguson is – or was – a man of the people. A former shop steward from a working class Glaswegian background who understood supporters’ concerns. Great though the man is, perhaps he needs reminding from time to time of the financial sacrifices that fans’ make to “get behind the team,” as he less than eloquently put in recent programme notes.
Sir Alex Ferguson
Trafford Training Centre
9: Petition the FA, UEFA and FIFA
Regulation in football has failed. It has failed not only the clubs and the fans but the sport itself. While the national, European and World Governing bodies look on, seemingly unmoved, the situation need not continue forever. Indeed, UEFA chief Michel Platini has an agenda to bring financial mismanagement to an end. Encourage him to do so today.
The Football Association
25 Soho Square
London W1D 4FA
Union des Associations Européennes de Football
Route de Genève 46
CH-1260 Nyon 2
PO Box 8044
10: Encourage the Red Knights to invest
Points 1-9 increase the pressure on the Glazer family – political, regulatory and financial. Point 10 is the end-game: Glazer out of the club, for good. In reality, short of United’s business model failing and the club falling into administration, a transfer of ownership will only take place when the Glazers family is ready to sell. Market price could be as much as £1.2 billion. In recent days prominent figures in the world of business and finance have called for a change in ownership including Fred Done, Keith Harris, Paul Marshall and Jim O’Neil. MUST believes at least 50 of these so-called Red Knights are ready to spend big on buying United. Encourage them now!