Old Trafford was supposed to play host to the latest instalment of Manchester United’s rivalry with Liverpool, but instead bore witness to unprecedented protests against the club’s Glazer family ownership as the biggest game in English football was postponed amid a frenzied pitch invasion.
Thousands of Manchester United fans congregated on the Old Trafford forecourt hours before kick-off to voice their renewed discontent at the Glazers following their involvement in the failed European Super League proposals, before an incredible escalation saw hundreds force their way into the stadium and onto the pitch.
From the efficacy of the protest and the security at Old Trafford, to whether the Glazers will take notice and evaluate their 16-year period as custodians of Manchester United, Sunday’s protest has thrown up a multitude of questions, many of which remain unanswered.
On this week’s Pitch to Post Review Podcast, Sky Sports News‘ North West reporter James Cooper joined Jasper Taylor to offer his first-hand account of the events outside Old Trafford and assess where Manchester United’s disgruntled fanbase go from here in their bid to oust the Glazers…
Can anyone buy the Glazers out of Man Utd?
“The question of who can afford to buy Manchester United opens up questions about the identity of such a person or persons, and where the necessary funds come from. You’d have to say the shortlist would consist of oligarchs, sheikhs and billionaires, whether they would want to buy United, however, is a different matter.
“Let’s say someone decides to buy Manchester United for £3bn or £4bn, there are then a lot of issues that will soak up cash as well. Do you throw money into the black hole which is Old Trafford and make it into a 21st-century stadium by redeveloping it, or much like Tottenham, do you look at the land around the ground and build a new stadium next to it? Either of those is going to cost money.
“I think the Glazers are looking at what costs less, what can they get away with. As businessmen, I guess they are natural in doing that.
“Then you look at the playing staff, Manchester United want the best players but, this summer, they cannot afford the best players. They might get one great player in, but fans want three or four stellar players and that costs money. It’s all very well saying who can afford to buy the club but it’s then a matter of who can afford taking it to the level Manchester United fans are demanding.
“Such is the environment at the moment, if someone comes in and buys Manchester United and things don’t go well and carries on in the same fashion as the Glazers, then these problems will be repeated again and again.
“Manchester United fans won’t like me saying it, but maybe it’s better the devil you know. They know how the Glazers behave, what they are about, and you just have to get on with it, but I’m not sure many people would agree with me.”
The good, the bad and the ugly
“We always thought this was going to be a significant demonstration due to the numbers, 10,000 were expected on the Old Trafford forecourt and it was thought that would be the power of the protest. There wasn’t 10,000, more like two or three, but what happened was significant in a different way.
“No one minds people protesting, the police would agree with that, Manchester United would agree with that, but it did turn nasty. For people to say it was a peaceful protest was wrong, it was largely a peaceful protest.
“The passion and emotion was there, the green and gold flares made for great pictures, but what didn’t make for good viewing was when bottles were being thrown. My cameraman almost got hit by a bottle and was verbally abused, and things very quickly disintegrated into something that wasn’t a protest or demonstration but akin to a riot.
“There will be an overwhelming majority of Manchester United fans who are proud of what happened yesterday and proud they got the game cancelled because that is what those people there were trying to do, and they achieved it.”
Silent Glazers well aware of fan unrest now
“There were voracious protests back in 2010 when thousands of people paraded through the streets of Manchester with green and gold but, like it or not, it ultimately achieved nothing.
“What Sunday did achieve was the cancellation of the biggest game in English football with people getting inside Old Trafford and onto the pitch, images that will be shown all around the world.
“If the fans were trying to make their campaign a global one which got across to the Glazers, whether it was right or wrong, I am sure the Glazers will be well aware that the game didn’t take place and some of the things that happened in the name of Manchester United.
“At a time when the owners of Manchester United have spoken about greater communication and building bridges, we didn’t see any Glazer representation in the emergency fans’ forum meeting on Friday when they had a chance to act out their words.
“The protests represent the feelings towards the owners, which haven’t gone away. It’s been a festering relationship with little to no communication.
“It isn’t a case of goodwill or ill-feeling between Manchester United fans and the owners, there’s just no relationship whatsoever, there never has been.”
Will the protests make a difference?
“The protests represented the emotion and that Manchester United fans have had enough.
“The question I was asked more than anything other than, ‘will the game be on?’ was, ‘do you think this will make a difference?’. If look back at 2010, you’ve probably got to say no.
“The Glazer family, for right or wrong, like being owners of Manchester United, it has lots of benefits for them. Have things changed? Probably not, I think they view this all from Florida as a Manchester problem which doesn’t hurt them.
“When Manchester United fans are asking whether the protests will make a difference, it points at concerns that for as far as things went on Sunday even that might not be enough to bring about what they want.
“I think fans are realising that all of this may have gone beyond Manchester United, the Premier League and the owners debate and they might be looking at government to do something because I just don’t see this dream of 50+1 ownership coming in without any government regulation.
“Owners aren’t going to decide that is a great way to run things and suddenly let fans have as much say as they want in a football club. It just isn’t going to happen, these owners want to run clubs as businesses, leaving to governments to intervene, and that is where the stumbling blocks come.”
Pitch to Post Review: Glazers Out protests hit Old Trafford; Plus: season-defining week in Europe for Premier League quartet
Jasper Taylor is joined by James Cooper, Ben Ransom and Adam Bate to discuss the unprecedented protests inside and outside Old Trafford and the big talking points ahead of a season-defining week in Europe.
PART 1 – Protests at Old Trafford cause Man Utd vs Liverpool to be postponed | James Cooper’s account | What next for the Glazers at Man Utd?
PART 2 – What’s the feeling towards the Man City owners? | What have they done differently? | Will the Glazers sell Man Utd?
PART 3 – Champions League and Europa League preview | How will Man City, Chelsea, Man Utd and Arsenal fare? | Who will a trophy mean more to?
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