For the last two or three weeks, we’ve barely heard anything else from Sky other than how fans matter and that they’re the life of the game and the most important people in football.
So on Sunday afternoon when Manchester United were due to face Liverpool at Old Trafford and fans stormed the stadium to cause it to be postponed, why were they portrayed as hooligans and horrendous people?
We’ve all listened to Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher’s calls for fans to ‘mobilise’ and ‘march at stadiums’ to oppose the plans for a European Super League, with the owners of the six clubs rightly seen as the bad guys in this entire thing. So when it’s now been acted upon it’s deemed bad because it hit Sky in the pocket. Seems convenient.
Now, credit where it is due. Roy Keane, Carragher and Neville were all very vocal about their support of the fans’ protests and were quick to point out that anything that did go left-field was a small minority of fans who may have had an ulterior motive.
But this protest didn’t happen overnight and for no reason, as Graeme Souness wanted to try and point out.
This is off the back of 16 years worth of some parasite owners looking to bleed the club dry of all the fortunes and reputation they built up over the best part of a century since being formed. The Glazers bought the club using hedge fund loans, taken out against the club, plunging Manchester United into hundreds of millions of pounds of debt immediately.
There were protests then too, but the government and FA allowed it to happen and the fans could do nothing. The club are yet to pay any of that loan back despite being 16 years further down the line, with the only ground made up on clearing the debt is by paying over £700m of interest. Add to that the fact the Glazers take a dividends every year, totalling around £75m a year, plus another £70m in director fees means these bankers have taken over £1bn from the club.
Yet despite this, the club’s stadium and training ground have fallen behind the standards of a club of United’s standing as the Glazer’s flat out refuse to put any money into the club.
Now I understand that from their perspective, they are businessmen and want to make money not spend it. But the FA, Premier League and government have to look back at how they were allowed to buy a community asset with money they didn’t have and are now allowed to bleed it dry of all it’s profits.
United had been able to challenge for trophies and compete for a while, but it’s now caught up as other clubs spend their money wisely to progress.
This protest was absolutely nothing to do with the fact the club have been struggling for trophies in recent years and on the pitch aren’t the side they once were. The fans’ biggest protests came back in 2010 when the club reached won three consecutive league titles and made three Champions League finals in four years.
This is an issue that was reignited by the recent Super League saga and has only served to light the fire back under United fans to seek change. The only difference now is that the Glazers are under the microscope from the rest of English football for trying to lead the way.
There’s not much point in the fans singing and chanting with signs outside the stadium when it comes to the Glazers. They don’t pay attention anyway and I’d be genuinely shocked if they even knew there was supposed to be a game happening at Old Trafford on Sunday – that’s how little attention they pay.
The fans needed to hit them where it hurts and thats the pocket. By affecting match day they have proven that they can make a real difference with these protests and considering this was planned way in advance and they still pulled it off, shows just how serious they are.
Yes there would be a small minority of fans who took it too far, clashing with police and/or other individuals but unfortunately you will always have idiots at things like this. It comes with the package and I’m sure you won’t find any fans defending their actions if they did go too far. But this protest at Old Trafford is and should be just the beginning.
United fans were forced to let them off the hook back in 2010 when the protests fell on deaf ears and eventually fizzled out. Now they have the attention of the world’s sports media and need to use it to show just what the Glazers have done to the club and force them out.
The protest was a good thing and should be treated as such – don’t let the handful of idiots take the limelight of what was a great thing.