May 13, 2021

Man Utd

News

Manchester United fans finally sent a message the Glazers cannot ignore

4 min read

There was something quite apposite about a real-life mass protest succeeding on such a grand scale, on a weekend when football had boycotted social media.

Sure, if you had ventured onto Twitter or Instagram on Sunday afternoon, you would have still seen hundreds of posts — many of them videos of the dramatic protests outside Old Trafford that prompted the postponement of Manchester United versus Liverpool.

But idly tweeting with the hashtag ‘#GlazersOut’ hasn’t worked for United fans in the past decade. It has represented apathy, procrastination and a stationary movement that wasn’t causing an iota of concern for the power-wielding executives inside Old Trafford, and on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

On Sunday afternoon, however, the only things stationary in Manchester were the team buses outside the Lowry Hotel as they waited unsuccessfully to carry their passengers to play a football match.

A barricade of United fans stood firm outside the hotel, intent on making sure the biggest game in English football was not played.

Down the road outside Old Trafford, momentum gathered as the (scheduled) 4.30pm kick off time drew nearer. The anti-Glazer chants grew louder, the green and gold smoke spread and the message was clear: apology not accepted.


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That of course was a reference to the Joel Glazer apology that emerged on the United official website after the European Super League plans were scrapped, following an enormous backlash from supporters of all clubs. A belated and, quite frankly, insulting sorry note was never going to cut the mustard; nor were the briefings coming out of Ed Woodward’s camp that claimed the resignation of the executive vice chairman was borne out of his desire to stop the ESL proposals in their tracks.

The PR stunts haven’t worked this time.

No, fans have mobilised like never before and, despite the actions of a small minority leaving a slightly sour taste in the mouth by the end of the afternoon — amid one or two arrests following scuffles with police — this should be remembered as a momentous day for United supporters, and perhaps for the whole of English football.



Protesters block the front of The Lowry Hotel on Sunday afternoon

For too long the Glazers have been able to live in their own echo chamber, no doubt muting the phrase #GlazersOut on their Twitter timelines and turning their eyes to balance sheets rather than the homemade bed-sheets some fans displayed in the vague hope of eliciting change.

This was something altogether different. This was front page and back page news all over the globe, an elite football match brought to a standstill because supporters had something to say. They want the Glazers to bring their ownership of United to an end, so what better action than to hit them in the pocket, to humiliate them on an international scale?

That is the kind of language the Glazers will understand. Not just a few tweets and a cursory scarf or two. You couldn’t ignore it.

In the end, it was left to former United captain Roy Keane — who, aptly, left United in 2005, the same year as the Glazer takeover — to sum up where things stand.

Keane, like many United fans, was disappointed that a top football game could not take place. No doubt he, like everyone, wanted to see the intriguing tussles between great players, like Luke Shaw and Mo Salah, Bruno Fernandes and Thiago Alcantara. But Keane also recognised the bigger picture, as the vast majority of United fans do right now.

“People might not agree but sometimes you have to put a marker down for people to notice,” he said. “This will go all over the world. Hopefully the owners see the fans are deadly serious.

“There’s more to come, this is just the start from Man United fans, I guarantee you.”

And of course, it’s important these protests continue to take place, and take place peacefully. You felt for the security guards and police officers at Old Trafford who were forced to clean up a mess that wasn’t of their own making. You winced when you saw injuries had been caused, and missiles had been thrown.

But that was the minority and shouldn’t detract from the headline; that the sheer weight of fans outside Old Trafford told its own story. No more sitting on social media, no more letting things drift, time to take action.

Maybe this time the Glazers will listen. Maybe they will have to.

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