A former Manchester United CEO – Peter Kenyon – agrees with this characterization of the owners of his former team.
“I’m not sure the people in this club now know what the club is about.”
Police estimate that over 1,000 protesters broke into the pitch at United’s Old Trafford Stadium ahead of the Liverpool game.
Around 200 people also gathered outside the Lowry Hotel in Salford, where the United players stayed before the game to protest against the club’s US owners.
Though the company fell apart less than 48 hours after its initial announcement, the lack of fan consultation has led many supporters – not just at United – to regain a semblance of control that they pay good money to watch.
The six founding members of the Premier League eventually pulled out of the ESL, starting with Chelsea and Manchester City, after fans, media, politicians and even kings came under broad criticism.
Arsenal and Liverpool’s involvement in the failed Super League project has also sparked dissatisfaction among fans with their respective owners Kroenke and Henry – along with Liverpool chairman Tom Werner.
On Monday, the Premier League issued a statement recognizing “the strength of feeling and the fans’ right to know what is happening” as it addressed the protests at Old Trafford.
“We commit to a close dialogue with supporters and their representatives as we work with the FA and the government to find solutions, but demand that all protests be peaceful,” the statement added.
CNN has approached the Glazer, Kroenke and Henry families for comment.
Since taking over Manchester United in 2005, the Glazer family, which includes the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has never really won over fans.
“In 16 years no member of the Glazer family has had a conversation with us,” the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), a group of more than 200,000 club supporters, said in a statement on Monday.
According to the club’s most recent accounts released on March 4, 2021, the club’s net debt is $ 630.7 million (£ 455.5 million). In December 2019, prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the club’s net debt had reached $ 283.16 million (£ 203.6 million).
Glazer’s priority is success on the pitch and the family can boast a net investment of $ 240.3 million in player acquisitions over the past two years, which is more than any other major European club . As of 2013, the total has been over $ 1.081 billion (EUR 900 million).
Sunday wasn’t the first time United fans protested. In 2010, MUST organized a protest in which fans wore green and gold scarves to the games, the original colors of the club – and the ironic red and white ties.
In its statement on Monday, MUST outlined a four-point plan to “rebalance the current ownership structure in favor of the supporters” and to demand a response from the glaziers by Friday.
Part of that plan was a “share program” that would give fans similar voting rights as the Glazer family.
One of the points is that Manchester United fans will be given the option to buy shares in the Glazer family at the club until they are “reduced to a minority or actually bought out”.
Genie from the bottle
While Manchester United and the Glazers are currently in the spotlight, fans have turned their anger on other US owners for the past few weeks for their participation in the ESL.
At Arsenal, protests took place in front of London’s Emirates Stadium a few weekends ago, in which Kroenke was asked to sell his shares in the club.
Although Arsenal fan and Spotify founder Daniel Ek has announced his intention to make an offer for the club, Kroenke has insisted there is no intention to sell.
In Liverpool, which prides itself on its close relationship with its fans – symbolized by the slogan “This Means More” – the news that the club had signed up for the ESL was not well received.
In a video posted on Liverpool social media, club owner Henry, who is believed to be one of the main drivers of the Super League, made a contrite figure.
“In the last 48 hours it was very clear to you that you couldn’t bear it. We heard you. I heard you. And I want to apologize to Jürgen [Klopp, manager] Billy [Hogan, CEO] To the players and to everyone who works so hard in Liverpool to make our fans proud, “said Henry, owner of MLB giants Boston Red Sox.” You have absolutely no responsibility for this disorder.
“You’ve been the most upset, and wrongly. That hurts the most. They love their club and work to make you proud every day. I know the entire Liverpool team has the expertise, the leadership and the Passion necessary to rebuild trust and help. ” we move forward. ”
“We never thought the Super League would move forward because we knew the fans would never support it,” DaGrosa told CNN Sport.
“Although we weren’t at all surprised by the actual reaction from the fans, we were surprised at how quickly the situation escalated and the protests that took place.”
The specific outcome that protesting fans want varies.
Some would like to see different owners in their clubs while others would like the 50 + 1 ownership model used in Germany to be implemented in the UK, but the message is clear: no more about perceived asset stripping by clubs or owners who focus solely on generating focus on revenue.
What the past few weeks have shown, however, is that the genie is out of the bottle – fans want these English clubs to really listen to them.