Around one year ago I went to watch my AFC Bournemouth side play at Old Trafford for the first time in the club’s history.
Or at least, that was the plan. Thanks to some rather shoddy work from Manchester United’s security staff a dummy bomb was found in a toilet. The whole ground was then evacuated, with the game abandoned. It turned out the ‘bomb’ was left behind by mistake after a recent security drill.
This meant thousands of Cherries fans made a 500-mile trip for nothing. We were offered replacement tickets for the game, but as it was rearranged for the Tuesday it was an offer few could take up due to work commitments. Myself included.
Just last week Manchester United confirmed it has no interest in compensating the thousands of Bournemouth fans who travelled either. They were not even willing to provide free tickets for the same fixture this season.
Our supporter’s organisation, the Cherries Trust, are now looking into how we can act legally. Tony Maycock, the Trust’s chairman, has said that when he confronted the Manchester club “they mentioned what happened if the match was called off for bad weather. That is missing the point entirely. This was not something out of United’s control and we are continuing to consider a class action.”
From a corporate point of view I can of course understand Manchester United’s actions. Accepting blame for this incident will open the metaphorical floodgates, and the club would no doubt be under pressure to refund the many overseas fans who came for a day trip to the “Theatre of Dreams.”
But this is fundamentally the behaviour of a corporation, rather than a club.
A corporation that has a manager that constantly looks like someone stole his sweets, and a club captain that attempts to get fellow professionals bans by spouting complete lies. By the latter I of course mean Wayne Rooney claiming he saw Tyrone Mings’s infamous tread live, despite the fact he was facing in the other direction.
Sadly Manchester United’s supporters have not looked to right what I see as a injustice. Now you might say few fanbases would, but I beg to differ.
A better class of fan?
Compare it to some of the past behaviour of our fans for example. Donating to Leyton Orient’s dire cause earlier this month for instance (see below). We even launched a crowd funding page to pay for the coaches for Burton Albion fans back in 2014 after our FA Cup tie with them was postponed at the last minute. That game was delayed due to weather as well – not through our own incompetence.
— LOFT (@LOFansTrust) April 16, 2017
Yes, there were fewer Burton Albion fans for that game than Bournemouth supporters at Old Trafford last year – but there’s a lot more Manchester United supporters to make up for that.
Sadly our fans – with all they’ve been through financially – seem to be a bit more in touch with the realities of being a supporter than many of the followers of Manchester United.
Even the behaviour of Manchester United’s players seems out of touch with reality. Take last weekend for instance, where the team were seen warming up for their game with Burnley wearing shirts with the names of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo emblazoned upon them. What had happened to them I hear you ask? They were injured. Seriously.
So as disappointed as I am to be treated so shoddily by Manchester United, this whole affair has at least made me realise I’m lucky – and proud – to be an AFC Bournemouth supporter. A club that may not get everything right, but at least has a fanbase to be proud of.