In the wake of the Glazers takeover of Manchester United, many United fans have seemingly reached a crossroads. Should they stay and support their team despite the backlash against the club’s rising debt or should they join the revolution and desert their team in a season that may prove to be a defining one in the future of Manchester United football club.
Much has been said and written on the deepening financial crisis at Manchester United but I want to focus on what the Glazers debt means for the team and its supporters. Firstly, this off-season has seen Sir Alex Ferguson relatively quiet in his transfer dealings so far, spending £18 million on Chris Smalling and Javier Hernandez. Compare this to Ferguson’s previous dealings in the transfer market where he spent upwards of £30 million on Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov and you could make a case for Sir Alex feeling the pinch somewhat this season. Also, Ferguson has yet to see any return on the £80 million paid by Real Madrid for the services of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The reported £700 million debt saddled on the club has severely diminished United’s spending power in the transfer market. With their cross-town rivals spending money like it’s out of fashion, there is a lingering doubt as to whether this current squad of United players can challenge for honours this season.
If United aren’t able to mount a serious challenge in the upcoming season, their already diminishing fanbase will take another substantial hit. To curb the falling number of supporters attending games at Old Trafford, the Glazer family have launched an all-out PR offensive to drum up more ticket sales.
In order to encourage more people to buy season tickets, the club have offered fans a free prize draw incentive if they chose to renew their season tickets before the June 13th deadline. The club then launched an aggressive campaign to shift tickets when they bombarded official website members with emails about season ticket availability, urging fans to take the club up on their deal.
This brazen attempt by the club’s hierarchy to increase attendance at Old Trafford to lessen the club’s debt points to the perils of the commercialisation of football.
The commercialisation of football, although inevitable given the amount of money in the Premier League these days has threatened to suck the very lifeblood out of one of our country’s most famous teams. The Glazer’s reduction of United to a pure business venture is a huge disrespect to the fans that are the heartbeat of each and every one of our football clubs.
The animosity towards the Glazers ownership has caused many supporters to leave the club in droves with the splinter support group MUST (Manchester United Supporters’ Trust) gaining traction in the opposition against the club. So much so that a consortium representing MUST called The Red Knights have been considering putting in an offer to buy the club back from the Glazers and return it to the fans.
The five years since Malcolm Glazer bought Manchester United have been turbulent to say the least. It has brought its fair share of success on the pitch but increasing turmoil off it. Manchester United fans have been put in an impossible dilemma.
Will you support United despite the Glazers’ ownership? Or have you turned your back on United as a result of it?