As Manchester United fans prepare to march in protest of the Glazer family’s controlling stake in the club, a former Red Knight has given hope that the government might be ready to help them achieve their goal.
Former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has been appointed to oversee the Government’s fan-led review of football and Lord Jim O’Neill, who was a member of the Red Knights group of financiers that attempted to buy the club from the Glazers in 2010, said that the Americans must be uneasy at recent developments.
‘The probability of some kind of legislation is no longer zero. It’s probably sensible not to get too carried away,’ Lord O’Neill said (via The Mail).
‘But I would have thought that changes the probability calculation among the likes of John W Henry [owner of Liverpool] and the Glazers about why they own these things.
‘In addition, because of the scale of the self-inflicted [harm caused by their] presentation of the Super League, you have to think that the probability of a Super League in the next decade, something these guys have been obviously plotting for a long time, has gone down.
‘That means these guys either have to think of a different reality as to why they own these things or be marginally more interested in getting out than they were before.
Duncan Drasdo, CEO of the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) agrees.
‘From what we’re hearing, there will be movement,’ he said of the Glazers.
‘I don’t think it will be radical enough. I imagine they’ll try to do something that sounds good but doesn’t address the real issues.
‘There is recognition among fans that this is the problem.
‘I can’t imagine them being accepted unless they did something that took their holding into a minority at the very least.
‘The legislative bomb line alone [from the Prime Minister] was so powerful… Though that was about the Super League, everyone will connect it with football in general, which means legislation has to come out of the review.’
The Mail’s Patrick Burns is equally skeptical about the Glazers’ sincerity about changing.
‘We’ve had Joel Glazer saying sorry about misjudging the mood and claiming they appreciate the traditions of the club. Sorry, they don’t,’ he said.
‘Otherwise, they would have spent the last 16 years engaging with supporters and finding out what Manchester United is about. But they aren’t interested in that.’
And Oliver Holt agreed. ‘The Glazers have milked Man United like a cash-cow and the club’s history is absorbed by their greed,’ the reporter wrote.
‘The Glazers aren’t interested in the fans. They don’t care. So Sunday’s demonstration is important but it needs to be backed up by real reform of a broken system that allowed our game to be hijacked by owners like the Glazers in the first place.
‘English football needs an independent regulator and it needs more safeguards. It is time fans and the history of their clubs got some protection.
‘The Glazers are tainting everything at Old Trafford. United’s rich history is being subsumed by the Glazers’ greed.
‘Part of their twisted legacy towards our game is that Sunday’s match between English football’s two greatest clubs and most bitter rivals has brought their fans together in a show of disgust.’
The protest march starts at 2pm in the Old Trafford forecourt and we will have a live blog covering events on thepeoplesperson.com. Sam Peoples will also be streaming live on UPTV from 2pm.