19 January ~ With Manchester United 2-0 up and the dark drawing in towards the end of a rare Saturday 3pm kick-off at Old Trafford, the Stretford End unfurled a banner. Covering the scoreboard by the north-west quadrant, it read simply: "MUFC – Love United Hate Glazer." It sparked a small cheer and increasing interest as people took notice. After a couple of minutes, a row of orange-coated officials emerged and raced down the steps to remove the offensive message. The culprits briefly displayed another banner before being tackled and escorted out.

This led to a ten-minute outpouring of anger towards Malcolm Glazer, the man who bought Man Utd in May 2005, heavily assisted by a loan and whose family is now intent on restructuring the loan debt by converting it into bonds. United paid over £40 million in debt interest alone last year. Perfectly natural and sustainable in business, we are told, which may be true. What is certain is that five years ago a football club that regularly attracts 75,000 people to watch its home games was not in debt, and now it is. You won't have seen any of this on Saturday evening of course. On Match of the Day, a show seemingly produced and presented by people who think Marouane Fellaini doing "a Maradona" is more important than whether or not one of the world's biggest football clubs will exist in its current form in a few years, the only evidence of the impromptu demonstration was the five-second clip with the audible strains of "Malcolm Glazer, you're a wanker".

Some argue that fans shouldn't concern themselves with off-field matters, a camp that presumably includes Sir Alex Ferguson, who told a fan in late 2005 to "go and watch Chelsea" if he didn't like what he was seeing. Every United fan knows Ferguson's managerial ability. But his fall from morally-principled defender of working-class values to hypocritical yes-man has happened only in the eyes of a minority. The takeover mattered to few people proportionally but some feel that the long-term future of the club they love is worth discussing and protesting about. Those who formed FC United fall into that category, those who plaster Manchester and the surrounding region with "Love United Hate Glazer" stickers do too, as do those who unfurled Saturday's banner or reacted vocally to it.

Whether United fans can do anything about the Glazers is doubtful. But they can continue protesting and be spurred into action by the stewards in the pay of those they despise. You may read about it if you frequent certain sites or fanzines. Maybe even if you read David Conn in the Guardian or Patrick Barclay in the Times. Just don't expect to hear about it on Match of the Day. Ben Winstanley

Comments (3)
Comment by Lincoln 2010-01-19 16:43:06

"You won't have seen any of this on Saturday evening of course. On Match of the Day, a show seemingly produced and presented by people who think Marouane Fellaini doing "a Maradona" is more important" fancy a football highlights show showing football highlights. As a Lincoln fan I am showing as much interest in Man Utd and their 'plight' as they showed in my club's when we were actually in danger of going bust. That is not me being bitter but I want to just watch some ruddy football, not listen to some bore prattling on about how much some loans cost and that these Glazers aren't very nice. There are plenty of shows where we can cover the boring drivel of poor old Man Utd and Liverpool for that matter, but Match of the Day is not the place for it.

Comment by madmickyf 2010-01-21 07:02:07

I'm with you Lincoln, these Premier League fans expect everyone to be concerned about the likes of the Glazers running their clubs into the ground but how many of them would know or care if Lincoln or Chester or Stockport went bust? You've made your bed with the help of Murdoch's millions, now go and lay in it!

Comment by Tannhauser 2010-01-22 02:53:15

@ Lincoln -

You know, simply saying "that is not me being bitter" does not make it true. What you mean is that because there was no media coverage of Lincoln's financial trouble, you wouldn't like there to be similar coverage for any other clubs, particularly those big clubs like Man United and Liverpool - to whom you are not bitter at all with, of course.

Certainly United going bankrupt is a foreseeable situation - but the problems that the fans have are not at all limited to that. It is about being overpriced out of going to watch your football team to finance some businessman's massive debts, or forcibly funding the servicing of his debts simply by going to support your club, instead of paying to actually sustain your club. In fact, many fans actively wish for bankruptcy, because they believe it is the only way the community can actually take the club back into their own hands. As for Match of the Day, they proactively silenced the crowds protests so it is not a matter of them portraying events as they actually are.

@madmickyf -

When you say 'you've made your bed' do you mean to say 'you've made your success'? Because United didn't make their success with Murdoch's millions, they made it with a genial manager and some rather special players. They certainly were not the sole beneficiaries of the 'Sky revolution', and you've lost your marbles if you think United bought their success. The fact is they went from being in no debt whatsoever to being in over £700 million due to a businessman's greed and lax regulations on part of the FA. The fans don't want a pity party, but they are fairly aggrieved and certainly have a right to that. The BBC shouldn't be censoring that, at the very least.

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