A former Manchester United CEO – Peter Kenyon – agrees with this characterization of the former owners of his team.
“I’m not sure the people who are at this club now know what the club is.”
Police estimate more than 1,000 protesters stormed the grounds of United’s Old Trafford Stadium ahead of the game against Liverpool.
Some 200 people also gathered outside the Lowry Hotel in Salford, where United players were staying ahead of the game, to protest against the club’s US owners.
Although the business has collapsed less than 48 hours after its first announcement, the lack of consultation with fans has galvanized many supporters – not just at United – who intend to reclaim some semblance of control which they pay a lot. money to watch.
The six founding members of the Premier League eventually withdrew from ESL, starting with Chelsea and Manchester City, following much criticism from fans, the media, politicians and even royalty.
Arsenal and Liverpool’s involvement in the failed Super League project has also sparked unhappiness among fans for their respective owners, Kroenke and Henry – as well as Liverpool president Tom Werner.
On Monday, the Premier League issued a statement saying it recognizes “the strength of sentiment and the right of fans to know what is going on” when responding to the Old Trafford protests.
“We are committed to maintaining a close dialogue with supporters and their representatives, as we work with the FA and the government to identify solutions, but we call for all protests to be peaceful,” the statement added.
CNN has reached out to the Glazer family, Kroenke and Henry for their comment.
Since taking over Manchester United in 2005, the Glazer family – who also own the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers – have never really convinced fans.
“After sixteen years, no member of the Glazer family has ever had more than a conversation with us,” Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), a group of more than 200,000 club supporters, said on Monday in a statement. communicated.
According to the club’s latest accounts released on March 4, 2021, the club’s net debt stands at $ 630.7million (£ 455.5million). As of December 2019, before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the club’s net debt had reached $ 283.16 million (£ 203.6 million).
The Glazer’s priority is success on the pitch and the family can report a net investment of $ 240.3 million (€ 200 million) in player acquisitions over the past two years, which is more than anything. another big European club. It has totaled more than $ 1.081 billion (900 million euros) since 2013.
Sunday was not the first time United fans have staged a protest. In 2010, MUST held a protest in which fans wore green and gold scarves to matches, the club’s original colors – ditching the ironic red and white ties.
In its Monday statement, MUST laid out a four-point plan to “rebalance the current ownership structure in favor of supporters,” demanding a response from the Glazers by Friday.
Part of that plan called for an “action plan” that would give fans voting rights similar to those of the Glazer family.
One of the points is that Manchester United fans are offered the option to buy Glazer family shares in the club until they are ‘reduced to a minority or even bought back’.
Genius out of the bottle
While Manchester United and the Glazers are currently in the spotlight, fans have directed their anger at other US-based owners in recent weeks over their participation in ESL.
At Arsenal, protests took place a few weekends ago outside the Emirates Stadium in London, demanding that Kroenke sell his shares in the club.
Although Daniel Ek, Arsenal fan and founder of Spotify, has announced his intention to submit a bid for the club, Kroenke has insisted there is no intention to sell.
At Liverpool, who pride themselves on being close to their fans – symbolized by a slogan ‘It means more’ – the news that the club had signed up for ESL has not been well received.
Subsequently, in a video posted to Liverpool’s social media, club owner Henry, considered one of the Super League’s main drivers, made a contrite figure.
“In the last 48 hours you’ve been very clear that this won’t hold up. We heard you. I heard you. And I want to apologize to Jurgen. [Klopp, manager], Billy [Hogan, CEO], to the players and all those who work so hard at Liverpool to make our fans proud, “said Henry, owner of MLB Giants Boston Red Sox.” They have absolutely no responsibility for this disturbance.
“They were the most disturbed, and unfairly. That’s what hurts the most. They love their club and work to make you proud every day. I know the whole Liverpool team has the expertise, the leadership. and the passion to rebuild trust and help. We move forward. ”
“We never believed the Super League would move forward because we knew it would never get the support of the fans,” DaGrosa told CNN Sport.
“While we were not 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 to see the 50 + 1 ownership model used in Germany to be implemented in the UK, but the message is clear: no more to the perception of stripping of Club assets, or Owners who focus solely on income generation.
However, what the last few weeks have shown is that the genius is out of the bottle – fans want to see these English clubs really listen to them.