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‘I may have to transfer my allegiances’
I saw my first match at Old Trafford in November 1953, when United beat Blackpool 4-1 and Tommy Taylor scored a hat-trick. I opposed the Glazer takeover from the early days and joined the Manchester United Supporters Trust and the Green and Gold campaign. Some of my friends gave up their season tickets and started following smaller local clubs, including the breakaway FC United of Manchester.
I was at the protest before the match against Liverpool. It seems to me you can either take the populist, simplistic, knee-jerk view of what transpired – like Graeme Souness – and focus on the very few idiots who caused damage and injury at Old Trafford (I don’t accept the “trespass” charge. Old Trafford is our house. How can you trespass in your own house?) or you can concentrate on the main issue of absent owners bleeding the club dry for personal gain – like Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher. Not a hard choice, I would have thought.
I’m not sure what my next steps will be. I have stopped buying United merchandise and have yet to renew my season ticket. I have toyed with the idea of transferring my allegiances to Oldham or Salford City, but it’s hard to break the habit of a lifetime. However, if the Glazers continue to show the same level of disdain for the fans, the same lack of investment in the stadium, and the same lack of involvement in community projects, I may have to bite the bullet. I’d like to see continued pressure on the Glazers to make the club more democratically run, including fan representation on the board, greater accountability, and more openness and transparency on the part of the owners. Colin Wood, 76, retired university lecturer, Salford
‘I will do whatever I can do to stop them earning’
I will not buy any merchandise or anything related to Manchester United. I will not even like their social media posts. Whatever I can do to stop them earning. Some shares should be owned by the fans and the 50+1 rule should be applied to English clubs. We should only allow American owners to buy a club in this country with a clause that they will not ruin the club. If they do so, the government should have right to lock them out, or fans should have the right to kick them out. Usman Shabir, 26, university student, Ipswich
‘United have felt isolated from fans for years’
I plan to join the protests when it is safe to do so, and to buy a season ticket for FC United of Manchester. I’ll retain my season ticket for the Manchester United women’s team as I don’t want to see the women’s game punished. I’ve been a fan as far back as I can remember. I’ll never stop rooting for them, but it doesn’t mean I’ll continue to spend money to see them live or on TV. We were here first and I’m confident we’ll have the last laugh.
United have felt isolated from the fans for many years now. The club is laser-focused on accruing cash to pay off the debts secured against club assets due to the Glazers taking out loans to buy it. This club is too important to the community around it to be held by owners who don’t understand the importance of football within our culture. Tor Turner, 30, IT engineer, Manchester
‘Most clubs have less than ideal owners’
I’ve been a United fan since I was eight and a season ticket holder since 2006. I’ve seen most away games, including those in Europe, since 2015. I’ve always recognised that the Glazers’ ownership isn’t ideal, but most clubs have less than ideal owners. Romanticised ideas about fan and community ownership have seemed off the mark to me. I attended games at Turf Moor with my Burnley-born stepfather when the club was the fiefdom of a local and very autocratic butcher called Bob Lord. Fans liked him when Burnley were league champions and they damned him when he abruptly sold their star player, Jimmy McIlroy. He and his behaviour were not untypical of owners going bak to the latter years of the 19th century.
I have no time for MUST, who seem to me a bunch of self-publicists with inflated egos who don’t represent the mass of fans. The recent protests had an unfocused quality, which doesn’t surprise me for this reason.
My current intention is to shrug my shoulders, renew my season ticket and continue to support the club. A realistic aim would be for the club to be run efficiently by owners who also take an inclusive view of the fans. It is unrealistic to hope for either the German model, or the member approach of Real Madrid and Barcelona. These models are historically and culturally specific to their locations in the same way the English system is a product of its origins and development. Unpicking that and reinventing it would have enormous legal and financial implications.
I’m also sceptical about fan involvement in decision making. Football clubs are substantial financial institutions that demand hierarchical structures with professionalised employees. Once you accept that, any fan involvement is unlikely to be other than peripherally consultative. Even with that I have doubts. My preferred solution would be to restore a meaningful public limited company status to the club and hope the shares could be widely enough distributed to create some sense of ownership among us fans. Unfortunately, such a solution would rest on the Glazers being ready to sell, and on someone willing to both fork out to buy the club and be prepared to spread ownership – though not necessarily control – more widely. Mike Penny, Northampton, 77, retired academic