After a weekend in which Manchester United made global headlines for off-field reasons yet again, you’d understand if their owners wanted a quiet few days under the radar.
However, such sympathy is not granted when they’ve been under that radar for the best part of 16 years already.
In the wake of the European Super League collapse United issued an open letter to supporters on behalf of co-owner Joel Glazer with an apology for such scandalous betrayal of the club’s devoted following.
“We have all witnessed the great passion which football generates,” Joel wrote, before promising to “put things right” and “rebuild the trust with fans.”
That trust never existed in the first place and now the chasm between the owners is only increasing by the day.
Sunday’s passionate protests at Old Trafford might have been viewed as the peak of fan outrage by the key figures being relayed information across the Atlantic Ocean, but given the way they have responded since, it might only be the beginning.
To go on-record and state you are keen to rebuild fan trust might be easy PR rhetoric for the club to push, but the glossy marketing shine is quickly rubbed away when the Glazers again avoid any direct communication with the fans they have treated like numbers on a spreadsheet.
An opportunity to attend an emergency Fans’ Forum meeting was turned down, before Avram Glazer once again avoided questions when confronted by Sky News in Florida on Wednesday.
“This is an opportunity for you – an apology perhaps?” US correspondent Sally Lockwood posed to the United co-owner, before being asked if he should sell the club, or if he had anything to say to supporters?
He refused to engage and shortly drove away without uttering a word. They must have different methods of rebuilding trust in the ‘Sunshine State.’
Glazer is tucked away in Florida, with Palm Beach a safe bubble far away from the reality of Stretford, to him perhaps the extent of the protests and the distress his ownership is causing hasn’t sunk in yet, but the least he owes is an apology.
From a business point of view he might very well be reluctant to speak without a rehearsed script to read from, for fear of sticking his foot even further into the mess which he has made for himself.
However, this yet again is not a business issue. While a hollow open letter or statement might at least be able to address some issues and put a formal apology into the public domain, the least United owners can do is start to treat supporters like humans rather than customers.
Lockwood’s questioning in Florida wasn’t aggressive, nor were the questions particularly hard to answer. Sure, a weekly grocery shop might not be the best time to break silence on such touchy issues, but they’ve had more than enough time to do so in a domain which would have better suited their needs.
Instead of extinguishing the flames United owners are fuelling them by further amplifying their reputation as distant owners who have no interest in Manchester United as a football club, they are running out of time to ever “put things right.”
An imminent sale of the club is highly unlikely and the uncomfortable truth is that United fans will likely be burdened by such a regime for the foreseeable future.
For the majority of fans this toxic relationship is now beyond repair, but if the Glazers really do want to at least subdue the situation it’s time they stopped being so hypocritical and finally treated supporters with the respect they deserve.