Some lazy coverage of Sunday’s Old Trafford protests claimed that it was merely Manchester United fans having a tantrum because they’re no longer the best team in the country.
That’s clearly not the case and even Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher can see it.
There have been protests against the Glazer family right from the very start of their ownership.
Back when Sir Alex Ferguson was manager. Back when we had Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.
Back when we were winning back-to-back Premier League titles.
So for those who need reminding, here’s a timeline of anti-Glazer protests going back to when they first took over in 2005…
2004 – Fans set up Shareholders United
Back in February 2004, Forbes reported that Shareholders United, comprised of fans who owned 17 per cent of shares in the club were concerned about the Glazers’ growing influence.
At the time, the next move by John Magnier and J.P. McManus, the two Irishmen who controlled almost 30 per cent of the club, was not clear.
They called on the pair to show their hand, but a year later, a proposed takeover by the Glazers was on the cards.
2005 – Opposition right from the off
United fans protested against the Glazers in February 2005, before their takeover was even confirmed.
Protesters marched around Old Trafford and blocked traffic outside the stadium.
Sean Bones, vice-chairman Shareholders United, said: “The aim is to send a message to the board not to give the company books to Malcolm Glazer. The banks won’t give him the money unless he gets his hands on the books.
“We hope the board can reflect the strength and resolution the supporters, the manager and some of the United players have shown in opposing Malcolm Glazer.”
In May 2005, FC United of Manchester, a breakaway club were formed citing the Glazers’ takeover as the ‘final straw’.
Obviously, they didn’t and in June 2005, the takeover was completed. That brought more protests.
On 30 June, the Glazers made their first visits to Old Trafford since taking over and had to leave in police vans due to angry supporters around the ground.
As per BBC, Bones said: “The Glazer family are the enemies of Manchester United. We find them disgusting and repulsive. They may have captured the club but they only have it on a temporary basis.
“It might take a long time, maybe two or three years, but we are showing Glazer that we won’t give up. The Glazer brand is toxic and tarnished, uncool and unstylish. Glazer will lose the war.”
2006 – Love United, Hate Glazer
Love United, Hate Glazer stickers had been widely seen at away matches throughout the 2005-06 season.
In May 2006, they were stuck on seats across Old Trafford after the 0-0 draw against Middlesbrough.
To be clear, United fans were watching a side managed by Ferguson, containing Ronaldo and Rooney as well as Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Ruud van Nistelrooy and still protesting against the Glazers.
This isn’t a new reaction to a new problem.
2010 – Milan protests and Red Knights
The club’s debt reached £716.5 million and the Glazers took £10 million in ‘management and administration fees’ from the club.
It was announced that the club would refinance all of debts brought onto them by the Glazers in the form of bonds.
Cristiano Ronaldo had been sold at the start of the season, and replaced with Gabriel Obertan.
In March, United fans held a huge protest, including banners inside around Old Trafford and thousands of green and gold scarves held up by fans.
One was thrown onto the pitch and picked up and worn by a returning David Beckham.
Joel and Avi Glazer were at Old Trafford that night – a rarity in itself – and saw first hand the extent of the fans’ discontent.
At this point, United had won the last three Premier League titles and one of the last two Champions Leagues, making the final in the other.
Another reminder – fans were protesting and it wasn’t because the team wasn’t up to scratch.
That led to the Red Knights group including former Football League chairman Keith Harris and Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’Neill launching a bid to try and buy the club.
They said that one of their priorities was to reduce debt levels at the club and were ready to launch a £1 billion bid, as per BBC.
Shareholders United had by then evolved into the Manchester United Supporters Trust, who backed the Red Knights’ proposal.
The Glazers would apparently not entertain any offers.
2010 & 2019 – Glazers Out planes
In May 2010, some United fans paid for a plane to fly over Old Trafford before the final home game of the season making their feelings very clear.
A ‘Glazers Out’ message was flown ahead of the 4-0 win over Stoke.
Another plane was used before the first game of last season, another 4-0 win, this time over Chelsea.
Avram Glazer was in attendance this time as the fans made their views clear ahead of kick off.
2019 – Open letter
Two weeks before that Chelsea game, United fans had written an open letter to the Glazers.
A group called the Glazers Out Movement posed the club’s owners five key questions.
It read: “Manchester United fans deserve to know the answers to these questions. Every fan has a right to know the character and conduct of their owners and to challenge them it’s in the best interests of their club.
“Protests against your ownership have come and gone, but now enough is enough. We are not going away this time. We will not sit in the dark any longer whilst you pretend we don’t exist.”
The letter came after a concerted, online #GlazersOut protest throughout the summer.
2021 – Super League reignites the fire
It’s clear that the strength of feeling against the Glazers runs deeper than the Super League.
But it was those doomed proposals which has relit the fire and emboldened the fans to protest once again.
The plans laid bare the Glazers’ greed so plainly, as well as their willingness to trample over the history and traditions of the club they profit so handsomely from.
They also sought to disconnect the club’s financial remuneration from performance on the pitch.
That would have been a dream scenario for the Glazers.
Now, they need to invest in the playing squad to retain the club’s commercial appeal and keep the cash rolling in for being in the Premier League and the Champions League.
But here was an opportunity to pocket £300 million a season regardless.
That means there would be no incentive for them to invest in the team. The Telegraph reported that salary caps were next.
They wanted to drive revenue up and outgoings down without a care about the sporting implications or the history of the club. It has proved the catalyst for further fan unity and protest.
This led to the fan protest and invasion of Old Trafford which led to the game with Liverpool being cancelled. Fans have also pledged to boycott all team sponsors.
Hopefully, this time the momentum will be retained and the Glazers will finally get the message, 17 years after the first fan protests against their involvement in the club.
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