Reports in the press recently suggest that the Glazer’s parasitic hold over Manchester United looks set to continue for at least another five years. It’s no surprise, with the club attracting huge amounts of revenue from sponsorship money, and new deals being announced on an almost weekly basis. It’s also no coincidence that this story has appeared during yet another period of unrest amongst supporters of the club.
The recent #GlazersOut campaign on Twitter gathered huge momentum, but will it do anything to disturb the stronghold the Americans currently have on the commercial behemoth that is Manchester United? Judging by the Red Devil’s own half arsed Twitter account, the effects of social media don’t appear to be particularly high on the board’s agenda.
The problem is that a large proportion of United fans still believe that success on the pitch coincides with how well the club is run. For them, watching these tyrannical buffoons whore their club out to any available punter is a small price to pay, as long as they are able to compete with Liverpool and Man City.
By the time United won the Champions League in 2008, hostilities towards the Glazers from the majority had waned. Of course there were, and still are the detractors who will never give up fighting, but this was becoming an increasingly difficult battle.
United were performing on the field and in turn keeping the smiles etched on the faces of their fans. Behind the scenes of course, the club was flittering away endless amounts of cash on interest payments for loans, as well as financing the relentless profiteering of their American owners.
Rebel club FC United had been up and running since 2005, meaning that the attentions of the most frustrated anti-Glazer campaigners were now focused on the success of their new club, rather than the arduous task of dethroning the marketing kings from across the pond.
Six years, and one dismal campaign later, the level of angst surrounding the Glazer’s stewardship has increased once more. Whilst any attention for the ‘Love United, Hate Glazer’ campaign is welcome, the reason for it exploding on Twitter over the weekend seems to be the lack of big name signings. Indeed, if it were announced tomorrow that four or five players were to join before the end of the transfer window, and United went on to smash Sunderland on Sunday, the campaign would predictably die down again.
Don’t get me wrong, of course United need to invest in players, but chasing these ‘marquee signings’ is becoming an obsession. Angel Di Maria is the latest darling of the Twitter supporters, and would of course be a great addition but not just because he has impressive stats on FIFA or Football Manager. Don’t laugh, but I believe that United do have a good squad. Not a great one, but certainly one that should be able to compete. Imagine any other club in the world dipping into the transfer market this summer and signing De Gea, Mata, Rooney and Van Persie? The fans of this (purely theoretical) team would be in raptures, especially if they inhabited the SPL…
Before #GlazersOut was trending, the majority of the vitriol was directed at Ed Woodward. To be fair, he does look like the kind of man who would get a few slaps in my local pub, regardless of his connections. The truth is nobody knows the constraints placed on him when bargaining for players. Woodward said all the right things to fans at the start of the summer, which probably made it much more difficult to negotiate with other clubs, but he’s simply the owner’s mouthpiece. He’s shown that he can negotiate by being the driving force behind huge commercial deals agreed over the last few years; so why else would it be so hard for him to finalise the transfers of players?
Sir Alex Ferguson was also blamed for leaving the squad in need of repair, but nobody seems to be discussing the reasons behind this. Fergie cared too much about United to willingly let the club slide after his departure. Just how much investment needed was masked by Ferguson’s exceptional management, maybe even to him, but history tells us that he was never shy when bringing in reinforcements to his squad. This was frequently at the expense of other big names too, so why did this change towards the end of his tenure?
For the club to succeed on a long term basis, then the Glazers need to be removed. The welfare of Manchester United is only important to these men from a financial perspective. They don’t understand the rich history of the club, and they certainly don’t understand the fans. To them, United are just a big red cash cow, pure and simple.
A Twitter campaign will not get rid of the Glazers, neither will protest marches or sit-ins. They may disrupt, but they won’t hit them where it hurts: their wallets.
A mass boycott from Old Trafford would achieve this, though it’s not a feasible option. For each ticket conceded, there would be another five fans waiting to snap them up. Younger fans, innocent to the greedy world of the directors’ box shouldn’t be punished either, and a lot of fans will, quite rightly, support their team through thick and thin.
But just imagine a world where peasants revolted against their greedy oppressors; an uprising inside Old Trafford whereby nobody visited the food and drink counters, or in which the United Megastore remained empty. Just imagine a world with frequent demonstrations outside the stores of ‘official partners’, forcing them to reconsider their affiliation with the club. Just imagine the Glazers’ faces when they started losing money.
At the moment, this scenario only appears in the dreams of Manchester United supporters.
Well, for now at least…