The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) issued an open letter to Joel Glazer at the start of this week demanding four key actions.
Amid a request for a response by Friday, MUST called for independent directors to be appointed to the club’s board.
The demand states: “Immediately appoint independent directors to the board whose sole purpose is to protect the interest of the club as a football club, not its shareholders.”
Well, a response came, of sorts. From Chelsea Football Club.
Setting the right example
Chelsea announced as part of their review into how the football club is run, they will be introducing a supporter presence at all board meetings.
The club statement read: “Three supporter advisors, picked through an election and selection process, will attend board meetings to ensure general supporter sentiment is considered as part of the club’s decision-making process..”
Chelsea were among the first clubs to pull out of the Super League, realising they made the wrong choice, before others – including United – eventually followed.
The statement from Chelsea added: “Supporter advisors will attend approximately four meetings per year, and more if appropriate. If they complete the year successfully they will be entitled to select a UK registered charity to receive a contribution of £2,500 from the club.”
Sometimes you have to applaud other clubs for getting it right, whether you like them or not.
This is the first step by one of the Super League six to address the fallout, save for half-baked apologies.
United’s protests run far deeper than the Super League, and are about the £1.5 billion the club has been cost by the debt-leveraged buyout of the club, and the lack of investment in the infrastructure.
MUST’s call for fan presence on board meetings should be achievable for United.
If Chelsea can do it, so can United. But so far, the Glazers have shown no inclination to want to do it. This could change with Chelsea setting a positive example.
Other demands from MUST include an option for United supporters to buy shares, and a request to back and support Government reviews into introducing legislation on the running of football clubs.
The ideal scenario is for the Glazers to sell. But if they are willing to compromise even a tiny bit and buy into these demands, it may grant them a modicum of good will.
Chelsea have laid down the gauntlet with their move. Well played. But we won’t hold our breath for United to follow.
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