Manchester United fans, sick of the Glazer family’s ownership of the club, have intensified their protests this week following confirmation that the club’s American owners plan to raise £500 million of new debt on the bond market. More than 300 fans attended a protest meeting in Stretford, while anti-Glazer chants rang out around Old Trafford.
The Glazer family’s glossy prospectus – designed to sell the club to potential investors in the upcoming bond issue – has also handed far more information to the supporters than in the past. Shielded from any deep scrutiny of the club’s books, fans have been blind to the hand in the till that has seen the owners take more than £20 million out of the club’s coffers in recent seasons.
Supporters are also now acutely aware of the £300 million drained away from the club in interest payments and management fees during the four and a half years the Glazer family has been in charge of the club, with Sir Alex Ferguson unlikely to have any transfer funds available in the current window.
More than 300 angry supporters attended a joint Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) and Independent Manchester United Supprters’ Association (IMUSA) meeting, held in Stretford on Saturday, reports Republik of Mancunia. The meeting, aimed at creating a strategy for the removal of the Glazer family from Old Trafford, is one of a number of initiatives held by fans in recent days.
At Old Trafford on Saturday a large banner, reading “Lover United, Hate Glazer”, escaped attempted censorship by over zealous stewards before both slogan and owners were forcibly removed from the stadium. The action prompted widespread anti-Glazer chanting for the majority of United’s 3-0 victory over Burnley.
“I was shocked by the treatment of anti-Glazer youths by MUFC Stewards. I protested but it needs more people to join in,” one IMUSA member told IMUSA.org.
“The leaders of the Stewards claimed it was safety and security but a perfectly peaceful demo by a small group was brutally quashed. I really was shocked.”
Meanwhile, Jonny Flacks, a founding member of IMUSA, called for Sir Alex Ferguson to resign in protest at the Glazer family’s ownership, which has left the club indebted to the tune of £720 million.
“This is not intended as an Alex Ferguson rant,” said Flacks, who was quoted in The Observer.
“But he claims to be a socialist, a former shop steward and a man of the people, so he must be horrified by what is going on. It would work only if thousands of people sent a copy of this letter to Ferguson letting him know that our fear, if the Glazers stay in control, is that his legacy is going to be destroyed. We wouldn’t want that and I don’t think he would either.”
While any call for Ferguson’s resignation will inevitably meet fierce opposition from many supporters, it will also fall on deaf ears with the Scot. Ferguson is a prominent and vocal supporter of the Glazer regime he sees as more co-operative than the old PLC board. MUST, subsequently distancing itself from Flacks, has said it is “100 per cent” behind Ferguson
Indeed, whether Ferguson is ignorant of the true scale of United’s financial predicament or simply ready to ride out the storm and keep his job, the manager has never wavered from contemptuous dismissal of Glazer’s critics.
“We have to look at the greater good and at the moment we have the ludicrous situation where a club that gets over 70,000 supporters is losing money,” Flacks continued.
“This would be Ferguson’s chance of saying that something had to be done. He would be looking after the club in the longer term if it meant the Glazers would sell more quickly. And if he said he was going to resign, maybe that would also encourage potential buyers to hurry up.”
More realistic is the planned demonstration at United’s upcoming Champions League second round match with AC Milan. Supporters will enter the stadium late following a pre-match march as opposition to the Glazer regime grows by the day.