Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer has apologised ‘unreservedly’ for the club’s decision to join the European Super League this week – so is this the final straw in the already fractured relationship between the club’s owners and the fans?
United, along with Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, were among the 12 clubs to sign up for the hugely controversial breakaway competition on Sunday.
But by Tuesday night, the six Premier League clubs had confirmed their decisions to back away from the proposal, withdrawing their support after widespread condemnation from the football world.
The Super League is now all but dead with Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Inter also pulling out, with one its chief architects, Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli, admitting on Wednesday the project can no longer continue as planned.
However, the fact that the Glazer family were willing to join the breakaway league without considering the views of their supporters has once again infuriated fans – many of whom have been campaigning against their ownership since they bought the club in 2005.
“In seeking to create a more stable foundation for the game, we failed to show enough respect for its deep-rooted traditions –promotion, relegation, the pyramid – and for that we are sorry,” Glazer wrote in his letter which appeared on the club’s website.
‘This is the world’s greatest football club and we apologise unreservedly for the unrest caused during these past few days.
“Right now, our priority is to continue to support all of our teams as they push for the strongest possible finish to the season. ‘In closing, I would like to recognise that it is your support which makes this club so great, and we thank you for that.”
But the apology appears to have done little to heal the wounds between the club and the supporters which were highlighted once again on Thursday.
Manchester United fans blocked both entrances to the club’s Carrington training ground before the first-team’s session.
Around 20 fans breached security at the training complex to unfurl banners that read ‘51% MUFC 20’, ‘We decide when you play’ and ‘Glazer out’.
The ‘51%’ is a reference to fans holding the majority of voting rights at a club, which is commonplace in German football.
To be honest, the Glazers never really tried to build any relationship with the Manchester United fans,” says Roy from @theutdjournal.
“In his over 15 years at the club since that controversial takeover in 2005, the Glazers have directly communicated with the fans only twice or thrice.
“They don’t care or bother about us. They care about money, not popularity. I saw in Joel Glazer’s open letter he wrote, ‘We will try to rebuild our relationship with the fans.’ This was so ironic considering they never really built any relationship, let alone rebuild it.
“From a commercial perspective, financial figures say one of the best. But from a football perspective, that’s not the case. The Glazers don’t understand football, they don’t understand Manchester United.
“They see this as a business to maximise their profit and wealth. They are the only owner with zero investment, and the only ones who have constantly taken out money from the club.
“They are saddling United into debt. No investment in squads, no backing the manager. They just care about sponsorship and brand value. They treat United as their cash cow. I am waiting eagerly for the day these leeches get out of our club.”
It’s a view shared by David from @United4fans who told FansBet the move: “Lacks class, it’s about pure greed and we expected nothing less from the Glazers.
“Football was created for the fans and should always have their needs and wishes at its core. Money obsessed, elitist minded people should be stopped from running the game”
As well as the scenes at the training ground on Thursday, further protests against United’s owners are planned at the weekend, something which Roy believes is just the start of an ongoing movement for change.
“There’s also a protest scheduled on Saturday at Old Trafford against our owners who invest nothing into the club but always take out money in the form of dividends.
“There will surely be more of these as. We, the Manchester United fans, were already not happy with the Glazers as our owners, and after what they tried to do in the last few days, it’s safe to say the whole fanbase is incredibly furious.”
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