Manchester United have announced the membership of those that will form the new Fans’ Advisory Board, following the failed attempt to form the European Super League.
It’s safe to say the debacle reignited supporters’ desire to see the owners, the Glazer family, depart the club but instead they’ve promised to ensure they involve fans in the key decisions that need to be made.
Man United confirm launch of new fans’ advisory board. Made up of seven fan representatives. Hope that it improves dialogue between supporters and club. Idea is that fan perspective is heard at highest levels after ESL disaster, which can only be a positive.
— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonESPN) December 1, 2021
New @ManUtd Fan Advisory Board will sit for 1st time in Jan. Joel Glazer to attend. Co-chairs will be Richard Arnold + Christopher Saad, one of 7 fan reps, inc 3 from MUST. Saad: “Sometimes will be agreement, sometimes will challenge hard. Will not shy away from frank discussion"
— Simon Stone (@sistoney67) December 1, 2021
According to the club’s official website, the press release stated: “Saad grew up in Greater Manchester among a family of United fans and has attended Old Trafford regularly for over 25 years.
“As a leading barrister with a specialism in sports law, he has represented clients in football-related cases and holds membership of disciplinary panels for several national sports governing bodies.
“Saad was the unanimous choice as Co-Chair following an extensive search process. The selection panel included club leaders, representatives of the Fans’ Forum, the club’s existing fan representative body, and the independent Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST)…
“Meetings of the FAB will take place four times a year, with five senior club leaders also part of its permanent membership in addition to Arnold as Co-Chair.
“Joel Glazer, the club’s Co-Chairman, will attend the inaugural meeting in January.”
Collette Roche, Manchester United Chief Operating Officer, said: “The launch of the Fans’ Advisory Board is an historic step to ensure that the supporters’ perspective is always heard and understood right up to the highest levels of the club. This will improve decision-making and reduce the risk of conflict with fans on the most important issues.
“We agree with the independent Fan-Led Review of Football Governance that fans must have a strong voice in the running of the game, and we believe that our Fans’ Advisory Board and proposed Fans’ Share Scheme are consistent with that important goal.
“We are delighted to have attracted such a high calibre of individuals to the Board, all with a strong passion for United combined with the skills to advocate on behalf of fans. I am looking forward to working with Chris and the other representatives to get the Board up and running and establish a key role for it at the heart of the club.”
Christopher Saad said: “I’m delighted to have this opportunity to combine my professional skills with my lifelong passion for Manchester United as the first fan Co-Chair of the Fans’ Advisory Board.
“I firmly believe that we will establish a positive new model for fan engagement in football. Sometimes there will be agreement, sometimes we will challenge hard. We will not shy away from frank discussion.
“Our aim is to widen the areas of consensus and narrow differences, and to help maintain a healthy and successful football club which is in tune with its supporters.
“I look forward to working with my fellow fan representatives and club leaders in achieving those aims.”
The Glazers have straddled the club with debt so it’s understandable why fans want to see them gone.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was forced to hand in his resignation following the failed ESL but supporters wanted to see more.
The Glazers were forced to respond to fans’ fury and subsequently made promises that they’ve only partially fulfilled.
In other words, they’ve fulfilled them in the way they wished to rather than in the way they perhaps should have been.
For example, some may be wondering if there’s anything really new in all of this as how much influence can these selected fans actually have?
Time will tell what differences the FAB can make but it’s safe to say fans are right to be skeptical given the history of neglect from the Glazers.