Protesting United fans need a reality check

February 17, 2010

Two European Cup finals in two years, three straight Premier League titles, a first ever win at AC Milan and yet Manchester United fans are not a happy bunch.

Before Tuesday’s 3-2 Champions League last 16 first leg win at the San Siro, a large group of United fans spent most of the afternoon swigging beer in Milan’s central square – Piazza Duomo.

Many of the songs were protests against owners the Glazer family, one chant in particular was horrifically gruesome.

Most of the fans were wearing anti-Glazer badges and wore yellow and green scarves – signifying their allegiance to Newton Heath, the 19th century club which became United. A more drastic protest came when the Americans first took over and disenchanted United fans set up their own club – FC United - in the semi-pro leagues.

But what have the Glazers done that is so bad? Yes the debts are high but they have hardly meddled at all in the running of the club (unlike other owners in Europe) and United have become even more successful under their rule. 

Cristiano Ronaldo wanted to leave United for his dream at Real Madrid whether the Glazers were there or not. They did not force Alex Ferguson to sell and it appears the 80 million pounds from the sale was put into his transfer kitty. The boss decided not to spend all of it because the right players at the right price were not available.

It’s a long time since United were a club of “the working class” as some of the fans would like. Roy Keane’s famous prawn sandwich taunt, aimed at the London-based executive supporters, proved that. 

But if the fans got fully behind the team, they would see that their two standout performers on Tuesday were the most down-to-earth lads you could meet.

Darren Fletcher might not get spotted in the street while Wayne Rooney is the most modest world player of the year contender you could find.

PHOTO: Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring against AC Milan during their Champions League soccer match at the San Siro stadium in Milan February 16, 2010. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito


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Of course everything in the garden is rosy, I mean it is not like we are due in the High Court for a winding up petition today are we?

Posted by Annnidiot | Report as abusive

Absolutely clueless


Posted by Thundercloud | Report as abusive

Spectacularly missing the point. The current team is successful despite the Glazers, not because of them. The money bleeding from the club in interest payments and Glazer familiy ‘earnings’ means decline is inevitable. THey have no interest in Manchester United, they will take every penny and walk away leaving a shell of a club and with little or no personal liability for the mess.

Posted by POB | Report as abusive

“But what have the Glazers done that is so bad?”

There’s more to football than short-term success.

Speak to any financial analyst in the world about United and they will tell you that the club’s very existence is threatened.

Why would you sell your £80m best player or your £5m training ground otherwise?

On top of that, ticket prices have rocketed since July 2005, fans have illegaly been forced to attend games under the ACS system and transparency about club affairs is nil.

In short, we pay, they decide.

I’m not sure if you’re merely playing devil’s advocate here, Mark, or if you actually believe the nonsense you’ve written.

Spend a day with the fans and you’ll see what we’re about.

Posted by brightey | Report as abusive

Absolutely clueless

Posted by Thundercloud | Report as abusive

I mean the report is absolutely clueless

Posted by Thundercloud | Report as abusive

Thanks for the comments! Of course I understand the frustration of United fans because of the debt and ticket prices.
However, Portsmouth fans for one are a whole of a lot worse off and there is a big difference with United. No one wants to buy Pompey but even with huge debts, there would be several interested parties in United if the Glazers ever decide to sell.
The idea that the Glazers forced United to sell Ronaldo is simply untrue. Ronaldo wanted to go and Fergie and David Gill (who has been fully backed by the Glazers) did wonderfully well to persuade him to stay for that extra season.
The Glazers havent been half as bad as some fans feared when they first took over. It’s fine being anti-Glazer and wanting them out but does the team feel your support when fans wear green and yellow instead of red and white?
Is it not better to find a new investor and make them an offer they cant refuse?

Posted by MarkMeadows | Report as abusive

Just because Pompey’s owners are worse that ours doesn’t mean that we should be grateful for the glazers and the majority of our fans realise that ronaldo was sold because he wanted to go not because fergie had to sell him.
The antipathy comes from the fact that our club is saddled with a huge debt, that is being paid for by the fans. The fans with the green and yellow scarves are still vocally supporting the team but making a visual statement about their feelings about the owners, to suggest that we don’t support the team because of it is daft

Posted by OllieBelfast | Report as abusive

@brightey – you sell a player for £80m because the Real idiot president was willing to pay such an inflated price and everyone was sick of his will I/won’t I go to Madrid saga. Any player is just one knee injury away from retirement, and unlike a racehorse, he doesn’t have any stud value.

Posted by zakazano | Report as abusive

Mark – are you fully aware of Gills earlier treachury. The man couldn’t lie straight in bed. He wasn’t in favour of the Glazer takeover and then turned full 360deg once he had been offered the 30 pieces of silver for his silk purse. He’s a disgrace. You need to do some in depth research to fully understand the position and then report what you find. It will be different to what you have written today. I follow FC United of Manchester and don’t intend to take any moral high ground on what is happening at United but the real reality check is that affordable football is being put out of peoples reach not just at United but all games in the promised land.

Posted by Thundercloud | Report as abusive

Mark, how can a person in a position of responsibility be so wrong?

Ask your economics people to explain the bond prospectus to you. If they cannot clearly explain that under the Glazers the position can only get worse they should not be in their job.

It may be Portsmouth rather than Manchester United today but the day of reckoning is inevitable if they stay.

Posted by Annnidiot | Report as abusive

all fans would agree affordable football is being put out of people’s reach and that the game has gone money-mad (see a piece from my colleague mitch here 12/portsmouths-woes-unlikely-to-slow-pre mier-leagues-journey-to-oblivion/)

Of course you cant go into detail in a piece like this but i was just trying to prompt some debate from a slightly contrarion position. Any views from non-United fans would also be welcome on the issue.

United fans may well be justified in their gripes against the Glazers. They may well fear the financial situation will deteriorate.

I was just wondering if it is possible to better distinguish protests against the owners from support of what is a marvellous team

Posted by MarkMeadows | Report as abusive

Mark, why would the players have any love or respect for the Glazers? They probably despise them as much as the fans. Why would fans wearing a different colour mean any less support for the team? A bizarre notion. Face it Mark, you don’t really have a clue what you are talking about do you? Missing the point again, go back to school, do not pass Go.

Posted by POB | Report as abusive

Buy star players and win all Cups & League Titles every year, but do not increase ticket prices and magically bring down the debt at the same time (hopefully by the owners throwing in their own money). Have I summarized the comments of the ‘true’ ManU supporters above correctly?

Posted by UTV | Report as abusive

The players don’t care who pays their wages and certainly don’t care about the long-term future of the club because they will be long-gone and counting their riches.
The fans say they are outraged by the current owners but I don’t remember a conga through the city centre to welcome the formation of the caring, sharing PLC a few years ago.
If United win the Champions League this season their fans around the world will celebrate and take great joy from the event. I can’t imagine too many refusing to watch because they don’t like the wording of the bond issue.
Mark is right in pointing out that the days of family-run clubs doing good work at the heart of the community are long gone.
Premier League football is now just another arm of business and the mugs who pay inflated prices for tickets and replica shirts are in cuckoo land if they think they are anything but fodder.
It’s terribly sad but it’s a battle that was lost a long, long time ago and it’s pointless fighting it now.
If every United season-ticket holder returned their books there might be a momentary glitch of an empty stadium but the following week it would be full again.
There’s always another mug round the corner.

If you are so outraged, don’t go to the game. If you think ticket prices are too high – don’t pay them.
Go and watch FC United instead or any number of league clubs in the region.
The sad reality is that United, just like the rest of them, are not your club, they are their club. You are just the customer and not even a valued one.
And rememember, if Premier League boss Richard Scudamore doesn’t think there is anything wrong with how the game is being run, what hope is there for the man on the street?

Posted by pinhead | Report as abusive

Mark you glazer lover, you need to know what your writing about before you write such tosh…do u have any idea how much he is sucking out of our club and how desperate the situation could be? we could easily go bust, if we hadnt had the success we have had in recent years we probably would of done…and get behind the team? are you for real? the players know we love them, we love the team, we love our club – we just dont like how its run by people who dont even understand the history of our club…i suggest you take a good look and understand the facts, understnd the topic and the fans feelings then write a new article.

Posted by danielh4170 | Report as abusive

No you haven’t summarised the comments correctly,

Yes we want our club to be successful, yes we want great player but do we want it at the expense of the survival of our club, no.
United were a successful well run club before the Glazers came along but rather than having just a stake in a successful club the glazers wanted it all, in order to do this, enormous debt with enormous interest payments have followed.
This debt was brought to the club by the glazers, it didn’t exist before.
And one more thing, why have you put the word true in inverted comas when refering to the united fans who posted? I doubt you know anything about them

Posted by OllieBelfast | Report as abusive

I would rather have the Glazers than Abramovich or the Man City bunch, telling the manager what player to buy and field in the first XI every week and happy to sack him after just one barren season. How many of you have ever stopped to think how long we would able to hold on to Rooney and others who are on 100 grand plus a week without ticket prices going up? United’s financial woes are primarily a backlash of the global downturn, most other clubs are suffering too and the only two in the world not affected are Real Madrid, who have the Spanish Royal family backing them, and Man City. So be grateful for what you have been given under Ferguson and stop moaning.

Posted by Magicwand | Report as abusive

Seems to me as if Man Utd fans are spoilt. German football fans like Schalke fans would take the Glazers … if it meant to have great players, if it meant to play in Champions League, it it meant to be able to beat clubs like Milan…

Posted by stern | Report as abusive


75p out of every pound we spend goes out of the club to bankloans that glazers took out on us, plus dividends for himself….how would u feel if your money at schalke was being sopent like that.

and great players, im afraid thats not happening any more under the glazers, yes we spent big on berbatov but take a look at our transfer dealings before they came. in 5 years they have only spent approx 7 million on players nett transfer spend….because they have no money, we gnerate so much money, more then any other club and its being sucked out of the game. its not right.

do u really think we will be in the champions league, etc much longer if were run like this? it has very little to do with success on the pitch, its about protecting our future. otherwsie we could go bust.

thats not being spoilt.

were just trying to save what we love.

Posted by danielh4170 | Report as abusive

and mark i just read your comment:

I was just wondering if it is possible to better distinguish protests against the owners from support of what is a marvellous team

…So what do you think the green and gold campaign is doing then ???

Posted by danielh4170 | Report as abusive

ah typical utd fans – moan moan moan about how hard done to YOUR club is!!

It aint your club you fools it is owned by the glazers – respect that and you will become an even better team – you are clearly all quaver eating dole dossers who dont understand that what a good position you are in!!

I agree with mark – you are not teetering on the brink of administration – in fact you are teetering on the brink of another european cup final!! You are a good club, great manager and players and clearly a good ownership sturcture – no tinkering from the owners – money available – and it could be worse – you could have been bought by graham souness!!!

Posted by sooper_whites | Report as abusive

I think Mark’s post is proving itself successful in its attempt to push the debate beyond the well-known, legitimate disappointment expressed by fans and soccer pundits at how the business is run at Man Utd since the Glazers’ takeover in 2005.
The posts here above tell us how an open, lively discussion is needed.
Since when the New-York born brothers became owners of the world’s most famous and successful sport club many fans have hurled abuse.
As FT’s Roger Blitz nicely put it in an article last month, the Glazers are among the few clubs’ owners to have come close to physical harm.
Their latest attempt to pay down debt by raising money in the bond market puzzled many football finance experts.
But, as the debate here shows, Manchester United’s global appeal is still there and we are still talking of one of the world’s most valuable and successful soccer clubs. And in this success – despite Man Utd’s debts hit 716.5 million pounds ($1.17 billion) in the year to June 2009 — fans play their best part.
According to last year’s Football Money League by Deloitte, Manchester United achieved consistent sell-out attendances at its 76,200 capacity Old Trafford stadium in 2007/08, as much as in the previous season, despite the downturn and an increase in ticket prices. The total matchday revenues grew by 9 million pounds (10 percent) on the previous season. This represented 39 percent of overall revenue, the highest of any Money League club, Deloitte said.
Deloitte also pointed at the signings of several sponsorship deals that season, contracts that, it said, would boost the club’s commercial revenues in 2008/09.
FT also remembered how Tampa Bay Buccaneers, bought by Glazer in 1995 at a record NFL purchase at the time at the time, managed to overcome their difficulties and win the Super Bowl seven years after the acquisition.
The big question now is maybe of a different nature: what will the future of the club be if the Glazers decide to sell?

Posted by Anto | Report as abusive

the main point keeps on getting missed here or is this david gill in disguise? because were doing ok on the pitch your telling us everythings hunky dorey and because judas gill comes out and says we have plus 100 million in the bank its even rosier in the garden? well, when was the last time we advertised our warchest? and yes i accept if we didnt have fergie in charge we would be in a right mess now and then what would happen – would you lot be saying were right to complain then? we need to stop this before it gets to that stage and get these leaches removed.

and anto (or is it gill?), while u think your facts and figures are impressive, check out what gets sucked out of the club and out of the game for that matter – do u think thats healthy for the game? you should check out how many people have not renewed season tickets aswell and why there is no waiting list at OT anymore and why in fact the club are even ringing fans selling tickets…people have had enough, we dont expect our club to be laden with debt which is not ours and risks our club no way and we certainly dont expect as fans to pay for this debt. LUHG

oh yeah by the way how are the bucs doing lately?

a real glazer success story.

Posted by danielh4170 | Report as abusive

I agree with pinhead, who says you have to pay the money for the tickets?

You cant spend tens of millions on players and expect fourth division ticket prices.

Anyway, instead of shouting abuse at american owners in milan and ruining a nice Italians afternoon why not just arrange a proper protest where nobody turns up to the next man u home game?
That would hit the so called shoddy owners in the pocket and maybe get your message across a bit better, failing that why not buy shares in Ebsfleet United.
Jeeez you man u fans are a bunch of moaning……
AFC Wimbledon fan

Posted by PatrickJ | Report as abusive

“United’s financial woes are primarily a backlash of the global downturn,”

Hey magicwand whatever you’re on at the moment it certainly does the trick. You are well and truly clueless.

Posted by Thundercloud | Report as abusive

Patrick.J has got the answer. Why don’t all the man utd fans switch their allegiance to their local amateur club run for and by its members – AFC Wimbledon?
Just think of the savings on train fares for starters.

Posted by pinhead | Report as abusive

No OllieBelfast, I probably do not know anything about them true fans.

What I do know is that the Glazers have been providing SAF with a transfer kitty ever since they took over and have not meddled in the running of the club. There is debt but that is the price you pay to keep up with the purchasing power of Chelsea or Man City.

You can always ask SAF not to buy any players for the next two years and use the revenues to clear a major part of that debt but I doubt you fans, true or not, would agree to that.

Posted by UTV | Report as abusive

UTV – you KNOW that the Glazers have been providing SAF with a transfer kitty, do you? Could you say how you KNOW this information then please?

I await your unambiguous answer with fevered anticipation.

Posted by theheadhoncho | Report as abusive

The debt is in the region of £750m, is this the amount we have spent on players or trying to keep up with other clubs , obviously not.
The debt exists so glazer could own the club outright, so he and his company alone is responsible for the debt.

Posted by OllieBelfast | Report as abusive

I was in a pub with a group of United fans after a European win last season and there wasn’t much grumbling about the Glazers then.
Maybe it’s a coincidence, but it seems to have esclated recently with the side no longer having things all their own way in the Premier League.

Posted by 7jones | Report as abusive

u say we should just not tune up at the next game! i see no point in this coz if we didnt turn up wearing our green and gold the point wouldnt get put across and other people wearing the kit will just take out seats. as stated earlier there is no waiting list anymore for season tickets anymore so fans are starting to leave.
yes we are still sucessful (at the mo) but most united fans are worried with what will happen in (i think) 7yrs when the bonds are due to be repaid, i.e the sale of old trafford/carrington and our top players at that time LUHG

Posted by cybergremlin | Report as abusive

well cybergremlin, why dont you all chip in a few quid and buy them out?

Posted by PatrickJ | Report as abusive

Maybe you should all just become Manchester City Fans… They are gonna be the better team over the next few years.. and we have no debts… Come on…Don’t tell me you ain’t tempted..

CyberGremlin? Come on you know you wanna

Posted by NoCybergremlin | Report as abusive

However on a lesser offensive note… I actually attended a United Game (being a city fan not a great idead I know) and purchased the green and gold shirt to show my support. The idea that we may as well give up the fight against these people who care nothing for the football or for any sport is just silly. I followed my local club Wrexham(my then local club as I moved to Manchester many years ago now)and they went into administration got docked 10 points, which is what got us relegated. We couldn’t afford wages so lost our squad and went down into the Blue Square and our rivals Chester are likely to be thrown out due to similar financial issues…All because our owner used club money for personal gain and then disappeared and we were left with nothing. I’m a proud Manchester City fan.. But even I want to see the Glazer family out of football..

Posted by NoCybergremlin | Report as abusive

This is decent stuff, Mark – an excellent read. Yes, the Glazers are hardly the ideal owners, but United’s “plight” isn’t comparable to Portsmouth’s. Ronaldo would have left irrespective of who owned the club. Keep up the good work!

Posted by three-one-ten | Report as abusive

Just a quick note, Uncle Malc wasn’t responsible for the signings of our ‘great’ players i.e Ronaldo and Rooney, yes we signed Carrick, Anderson, Nani, Berba and Valencia under them, but, if you look at what we’ve sold since they’ve been around we have most defiantly received more than we’ve spent. Of course we’d like to see our club be successful, but not at the price we will pay in the future, I’m sure real United fans will sacrifice the last three Premier Leagues and European Cup for the survival of our club (which , at the moment, does not look very promising) Mark= clueless

Posted by tansbro | Report as abusive

You need to check out this grassroots American Soccer Firm gaining steam in NYC. I can’t tell if it’s legit.
All I know is that it’s hysterical. They seem to have it out for Rooney

Check it out:

Posted by hammersmitty | Report as abusive

Cristiano Ronaldo has moved to Real Madrid for a record transfer fee of $132m . I think this will hurt Manchester United

Posted by FootballGames | Report as abusive