Sunday, January 31, 2010

United fans CAN force Glazers out: but only if they pull together....

The movement to oust the debt laden Glazer regime is gathering pace with news that city banker and United fan, Keith Harris, has been talking to the Manchester United Supporters Trust about forming alliances with fan groups and a wealthy group of investors known as the 'Red Knights'.

The chairman of Seymour Pierce brokered the Thaksin Shinawatra takeover of Manchester City. Given his record and financial connections, Harris is well placed to lead what will hopefully turn out to be a powerful consortium that will include supporters' groups and wealthy backers.

Harris acknowledges that much will depend on the Glazers willingness to listen, but ominously for the Glazers, and as unpalatable as it is, if the fans' want to see the back of the club's American owners, then it is likely to rest on the actions of the supporters'.

The choice facing the Manchester United match-going fan is likely to be stark but clear: give up your season ticket or else carry on supporting the team and the Glazer debts as the club slides into oblivion.

Even if Harris and his backers fail to bring the Glazers to the negotiating table in the next few months, it is likely that fans' can expect massive season ticket price increases. United have for the first time since the takeover struggled to sell tickets for home games - someone is going to have to make up the shortfall and it won't be the Glazers.

The club have become so desperate to sell tickets for some games that they have resorted to telephoning supporters on an individual basis. Earlier this week, local bookmaker and big United fan, Fred Done, was talking to Radio 5 Live in a phone-in on the state of footballs' finances.

Done has supported United since he was a boy and says he is worried: United's former bookmaker of choice says the corporate suites are half empty and he went on to talk about the empty spaces in the stands at some recent home games.

The club's pulling power and the fans' ability to fill Old Trafford has always traditionally always been a matter of pride. We have collectively frowned on lesser 'tin-pot' clubs with part-time supporters like Manchester City. To stop following United for a season would be a bitter pill to swallow, but it could be worth it in the long-term interest of the club.

Over the course of the last two weeks, there has been growing murmurings that in a bid to force change, supporters will be asked to stop doing the very thing, many of them love the most in life, that is to stop going to Old Trafford.

Hopefully, it won't come to that because if sense prevails and if the Red Knights consortium and various fan groups can pull together to quickly bring the owners to the negotiating table, and importantly, a viable a deal that will work, then everyone with the best interest of the club at heart can pull together as one.

Realistically, given the amounts involved, the chances of bringing the Glazers to negotiation before the start of next season have to be slim. For now, all supporters of Manchester United and especially season ticket holders will have to listen to MUST and Harris. One thing is for certain, given the levels of unchecked toxic debts that include interest rates of over 14%, which have not been dealt with following the recent £500m bond issue, the club is still very much in danger.

The fans will need to pull together like never before and there might well be no other option but to vote with your feet.

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