The Sweeper: Supporters United Behind the Green & Gold Campaign

Green and Gold

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The growing “green & gold” protest campaign by Manchester United supporters, with fans donning the original colours of the team originally known as Newton Heath, is led by no one group.

There are certainly leading individuals and organizations at the core of the protest, though, especially the Independent Manchester United Supporters’ Association (IMUSA) and the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST).

The latter sent out an email to their members today on their involvement and path forward: “The wheels of the Green & Gold Revolution are turning. MUST has had meetings with Keith Harris and separately with members of at least two other independent potential consortia. All involved are “Red to the core” United fans. It will need everyone to come together into a single force. In any takeover MUST’s role will be to bring the mass of supporters together with the “Red Knights” bringing the majority of the funds.”

IMUSA has a statement on their site explaining the partnership they envisage with such “Red Knights” to ensure a new takeover does not take the club down the same path as the Glazers again. They are attaching three conditions to their support for any prospective buyers:

(i) Set aside, in perpetuity, at least 25% of the shares in the club (that can neither be sold nor traded) to a Trust, (the trustees of which should include fans representatives and representatives of the local community), so that the likes of the Glazers can never inflict themselves on our club gain.

Note 1: In most clubs in Germany the fans own 51% of the shares. The 25% called for here is derived from the amount needed to prevent a company being delisted on the Stock-Exchange if it is taken over

(ii) Establish a democratically and transparently elected Fans’ Forum and grant it powers to influence decisions about those issues that directly impinge upon the fans.

Note 2: The Glazers have only ever made one statement directly to the fans, via a sycophantic interview on MUTV in 2005 and have never met with IMUSA, preferring instead to simply ignore the written request to do so from the then Minister of Sport, Richard Caborn and the reminder phone-calls from his office that followed

(iii) Agree to the revisiting of the ticket price reconfiguration exercise begun by IMUSA and the club in 2005 (that would have resulted in nearly 70% of ticket prices being reduced whilst keeping match-day income the same) but abandoned following the Glazer takeover.

Note 3: Ticket prices under the Glazers have all but doubled for many ordinary fans and this has resulted in much of our traditional support being priced out. We wish to see this situation addressed as a matter of urgency whilst recognising the need for a certain level of match-day income

Meanwhile, those that formed FC United of Manchester some years ago out of protest to the Glazer takeover and due to a general dissatisfaction with the experience of Premier League football are trying hard to support the campaign without looking like smug bastards saying I told you so.

FC United offers its support to the Green & Gold Campaign aimed at unifying United supporters. The campaign, organised by no one group nor owned by any one section of support, has grown over the last two weeks as awareness of the true implications of the takeover of Manchester United has escalated.

The wearing of Green & Gold attire is intended to provide a public, tangible demonstration of the depth of feeling and provides a direct link to our, commonly shared, Newton Heath roots and has undoubtedly caught a mood.

Many have argued that the only realistic method of protest is one of full and total boycott. For those that made that painful sacrifice in 2005 and received criticism for doing so, it is an understandable reaction. However we did not seek the moral high ground five years ago, and we should not aim to occupy it now. Whether to boycott or not has always been down to individual choice and continues to be exactly that, however IMUSA were correct this week to state that the only real solution is to starve the Glazers of cash.

FC United is a proud bulwark against the travesty of the takeover, but we do not exist as a virtuous island. Our priorities are to continue to build our football club as an example of how we believe all clubs should be constituted; our short term aim is to establish our own stadium, in the longer term we will continue to campaign for wider supporter-ownership across football as we firmly believe that the only sustainable model of ownership is just that. We intend to place FC United at the very centre of that debate.

If we are going to affect significant long term change in the game then it is more important than ever that we maintain our own course to show that there is an alternative model to the instability of clubs which do not involve supporters at their heart. We must continue to help build a broad alliance of fans and interested parties in the wider game and we should encourage those better placed than us to tackle the issues at Old Trafford by giving them our support.

FC United remains as an alternative for fans seeking refuge from the excesses of the Premier League and we continue to be a major part of the visible resistance to the Glazers and the general mismanagement of football. Without the reforms we have campaigned for there will be no long term sustainable solution.

The Green & Gold campaign has been criticised for being merely symbolic by some. Yet perhaps for the first time, it seems this is something all the major activist groups and many supporters who would never have allied themselves with such “radicalism” before are finding a common voice through. If IMUSA and MUST can find an investment group who have the money to buy the club, and who commit to the conditions for support IMUSA outline, there may yet be salvation for Manchester United. And if not, FC United of Manchester  are right there for every supporter who feels disenfranchised by the Glazers.

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