As the dust settles after a historic day in Manchester United history, this morning’s newspapers offered their take on the fan rally outside Old Trafford that led to the clash being postponed between United and Liverpool.
The protest was against the club’s majority shareholders, the Glazer family, and to demand that the government adopt the “ 50 +1 ” model of football ownership in the UK, where supporters must legally hold a controlling stake in a club.
Thousands of fans showed up outside Old Trafford and the Lowry Hotel, where Team United were staying for their pre-match preparations. These fans smashed police barricades preventing the team from safely boarding the bus to take them to the ground, as Old Trafford himself was penetrated, with fans running across the field waving #GlazersOut banners and green and gold scarves.
For the most part this morning the press has been supportive, with a few touching articles from a number of die-hard journalists.
“ It is impossible to criticize the legitimacy of these protests, or their effect, ” writes The independentIt’s Miguel Delaney.
“They were almost unprecedented scenes. There has never been a game – let alone a game of this magnitude – postponed due to fan protests during the Premier League era.
“ You could say this is the second most effective moment of fan activism in modern English football history, after the demise of the Super League. Really, of course, it’s just a continuation of that same protest. This is why this shot can truly prove a defining moment in the game, in a totally unexpected way, and which represents a classic case of unintended consequences.
Thanks to the Super League plan, the Glazers [made] an attempt to assert ultimate control.
“Instead, the big picture is now out of control and there are – for the first time – real questions as to whether property is worth it.
“ United fans, like many others, have been helpless in the face of this for far too long.
“ Well, it was both an expression of their power and pretty much the only recourse the game left them – and it had a tangible effect.
“The Glazers and the other owners could well have gone too far. This is the new world they may have created.
The telegraphJason Burt was also supportive.
‘It’s their right [to protest] especially since they have, over the past two decades, exhausted all other avenues to express their desire for a change in ownership, ”Burt said of Old Trafford fans.
“ Good luck to them if they can finally force this and the Glazers have certainly shown how unsuitable they are to be keepers at such a big club. If Americans have the slightest feeling for United, they should look for a buyer to end their property.
“Forcing the postponement of the match is unprecedented and will certainly be noticed around the world.”
Write for The Guardian, Jonathan Liew condemned the Premier League’s response to the protest.
“A dangerous situation that shouldn’t have a place in football,” was the Premier League’s reaction, and without wishing to downplay the element of public safety let’s not pretend that was the main story here.
“ In fact, the Premier League’s reaction to the protests summed up the sense of alienation and disenfranchisement that engendered them in the first place. By siding firmly with his heirs and his class of owners, he simply reminded us of where the power in the game currently resides and where he has arguably always resided.
“ The Glazers cannot be forced to sell, and it’s hard to imagine that even a sustained protest movement would poison the brand enough to convince them. And yet, the events of the past few weeks have shown that the ground on which English football rests is less firm than once believed.
“ A pessimist might observe that it’s probably overkill to expect a few guys with songs and banners to change the world for the better. An optimist would argue that maybe it is the only thing that ever existed.
An article by The mail‘s Martin Samuel gave hope and inspiration.
“There was wickedness, as is often the case on these occasions; there are people who abuse the right to dissent for their own ends.
Yet despite all of that, despite all the disruption, disruption and inconvenience around Old Trafford on Sunday, it wasn’t the worst day for football. It was a good day, you might even say.
“Good, even without a game. Good, despite the bad. It was a day when many fans made their feelings known in a way that really summed up the anger around the sale of the Super League.
“It was a day that owners ignored at their peril. It was the moment of the football network. The fans were as mad as hell: and they weren’t going to take it anymore.
“ They certainly weren’t going to take distant, uncommunicative lords who believe our game is their source of income. They weren’t going to take loyalty as a stick to beat the loyalists.
“ They were not going to agree not to have a say, they were not going to accept not to have a voice, they were not going to take this: what has become of football and where it is going .
“It was, potentially, the start of something special. It may not change the ownership of football clubs, but if successful, it will change the direction in which these clubs are moving. And if so, that is a game-changer as well. Pulls him out of the abyss. Save him from the dying imaginations of the super-rich. Manchester United and Liverpool wanted Project Big Picture – and now they have one.
“The Glazers are venture capitalists. When it is no longer worth owning Manchester United, they will sell and clearly that time is not yet. What was worth it?
“A simple combination: a buyer with around £ 3 billion and an investment that was declining in value. Yet the second part of this equation requires even more concerted effort than it took to organize Sunday’s protest.
“It requires boycotts, merchandise, maybe even ticket sales. This forces supporters to stop supporting. It is very difficult to do. Adidas, however, is not impressed with a drop in Manchester United shirt sales this year. It’s not a lot, but it’s a start.
“There was a lot of outside support for the 50 + 1 property model, but even the most optimistic revolutionaries can’t see this happening… It also won’t interfere in the voting rights to give fans the 51% to say demanded.
“What might happen, if more protests follow – but only if they are peaceful – is that the government feels sufficiently pressured to provide for charters or for partisan representation at the executive level. Another start.
There were other newspapers – The Sun and The Times, for example, which decided not to publish any articles in support of the protests. But the vast majority, while rightly condemning the small elements that have turned to vandalism, have remained entirely in favor.
The last words must go to MenSamuel Luckhurst, whose eager article will serve as a rallying cry for fans to continue the fight.
“United supporters have achieved their biggest victory since helping to prevent Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of BSkyB in 1998-99,” Luckhurst wrote.
“This triumph, achieved in the midst of a pandemic and amid severe restrictions preventing partisans from forming battle plans, has been immense.
“ Napoleon would have approved of the tactical planning behind the United fans’ strategy. Thousands of people converged outside Old Trafford’s east stand, distraction enough for hundreds to unsettle the doormen at the Lowry Hotel, where the team was staying three miles away.
The Lowry could eventually affix a blue plaque on the outside of his entrance to mark the equivalent of David’s football fan toppling Goliath.
“ The Glazers had been trying to go up the drawbridge with the Super League company, so how the proper fans stormed the castle.
‘United have confirmed that the game has been postponed. Fans stood stubbornly nearby, clutching their cans and banners, were quickly informed. Victory.
“Coming back from the stadium, this correspondent had to turn off the radio. The coverage was disconnected and with prejudice, with chair fans wanting to condemn those who strayed from their behind.
A former Manchester City player complained that United protesters were compromising the ‘integrity’ of the Premier League. My dad messaged me to say that Micah Richards praised City owners for being an ambassador and Graeme Souness was as detached in his analysis as a Glazer.
“ Whenever the Glazers sell out, United fans will be looking at the buyers. They have a principled mindset and are not ready to make their beds with lords who violate human rights. They want the club to be in good hands, not bloody hands.
“ They will fight, fight, fight again for United. ”
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