Angry fans could be end of Glazers Manchester United ownership
Further protests later at Old Trafford saw hundreds of fans break into the stadium and reach the pitch, before they were escorted out by police.
Angry fans have pushed against an ownership model that has saddled Manchester United with huge debts while the Glazers have been paid millions of dollars in dividends some of which could have gone to maintenance.
But forcing unwanted owners out of a football club can be a long game.
Sunday’s demonstrations forced the postponement of Manchester United’s match with Liverpool, the biggest rivalry in English football as fans invaded the Old Trafford and blocked the first team squad’s hotel entrance and exit.
The Glazer family has never shown little interest in engaging with the club’s fans. Sunday’s protest may force the Glazers to reassess the relationship they have with the fans.
In the midst of backlash to the shelved European Super League (ESL) proposals, supporters throughout the country – even those with such a long-standing and passionate divide as United and Liverpool – joined forces to stand up to the alarming threat to football.
Victory was achieved in that sense, but it merely underlined issues brewing under the surface.
Big-money and high-powered owners at both Premier League clubs were heavily scrutinised for their involvement in the much-maligned reform, spearheaded by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.
On Sunday afternoon, that resistance took on greater significance still, forcing not only the postponement of the biggest game in English football, but one in which the result might have sealed the Premier League title for a third party across the city.
Gary Neville, former Red Devils defender says the Glazers are to blame for Sunday’s fan protests, and believes it’s time for them to put Man Utd up for sale.
“This is a consequence of the Manchester United owners’ actions two weeks ago. There is a general distrust and dislike of the owners, but they weren’t protesting two or three weeks ago.
“The Glazer family are struggling to meet the financial requirements at this club and the fans are saying that their time is up.
“My view is quite simply that they’re going to make a fortune if they sell the club and if they were to put it up for sale now I think the time would be right, and it would be the honourable thing to do.
“There’s huge discontent, not just across Manchester United fans, but I think for football fans up and down the country and I think they are just saying enough is enough.
“The Glazer family have been resilient and stubborn for many. I think they are struggling to meet the financial demands that this club needs and have done for some time.
“If you think about the club they picked up in 2004, it had the best stadium in the country, one of the best in Europe, it had the best training ground in this country, and probably one of the best in Europe.
Former Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, now a pundit says Sunday’s outrage is more than the collapsed European Super League.
“The biggest demonstrations we have seen are here at Old Trafford and at Arsenal. We keep talking about the Super League and the six clubs. There is no doubt that the feelings towards the owners among Manchester United and Arsenal fans is much bigger than the Super League.
“The reason they are protesting so much at Manchester United is not just because of the Super League. This goes back to when they came in and they were charging season ticket holders and taking money out of their bank if they did not want to go to a Carling Cup game or maybe a Europa League game, they were just taking money off fans.
“This is one of the richest clubs in the world, maybe still is. But the success of Manchester United is paying their mortgage on Manchester United when they were not in that situation before they took over.
Graeme James Souness, pundit on Sky Sports, claimed United fans’ anger at the Glazers is slightly “misdirected” after they invaded Old Trafford.
Souness believes the club’s decline on the pitch is also behind the fans’ protest. Sir Alex Ferguson enjoyed huge success before he retired in 2013 and his successors have been unable to deliver consistently.
United are currently in the midst of a trophy drought that dates back to 2017.
Souness though has been keen to underline the huge financial backing given to recent managers as he doubts the Glazers will be phased by the protests.
He said on Sky Sports: “I don’t think it will have an impact. The Glazers, since Fergie retired, have given successive managers over a billion pound to spend. I think it’s £719million net spend over the eight years.
“I think it’s born out of United not being top dogs as much as what happened last week, I think that’s another excuse to have a go at them. These are serious, serious business people, I don’t think this will impact on their thoughts. I really don’t.
“We live in a country where you can demonstrate, you can vent your feelings, you’re allowed to do it, but I still don’t see it impacting on the Glazers one little bit.
“If you think you can bring serious pressure to serious business people who live 3,000 miles away, across the Atlantic, that it will drive them to accept a discounted offer for Manchester United, that will not happen.
“They’ve had to put collateral in, you don’t just go to the bank and say I want to buy Manchester United, I’ll need £500million or however much it costs to buy, without committing some sort of collateral.
“They’ve risked things to buy Manchester United, since then, they’ve given successive managers fortunes to spend.
While protests have come and gone before, the noise over the Glazers is likely to be relentless when Old Trafford’s turnstiles click open once again. The anger being directed at Joel Glazer is unlikely to subside any time soon.