The Sweeper: Time for Man Utd Fans to Boycott Old Trafford in Green and Gold Campaign

Green and Gold protest

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Keith Harris, a Man Utd fan and leader of a consortium hoping to buy the club from the Glazers, states the rather obvious and says to force change, the Green and Gold campaign has to turn into a boycott of the stadium by fans to hit the owners in the pocket and force them to sell before their investment’s value takes a serious tumble.

“They have to be prepared to take the pain of not watching their club in order to achieve a long-term gain. Supporters have to be galvanised to say, ‘we will not come. We will not buy programmes and merchandise’.

“It’s a big ask, it’s a risk, but that is what must happen. The Glazers are thick-skinned and seem impervious to protest. They will not be impervious to enormous drops in their revenue.

“I would not talk about this if I didn’t have full confidence in our ability to raise the money to do this. I never talk publicly unless I have confidence. Getting the money together is the easy bit, but we can’t make an offer until the Glazers are placed in a position where they are forced to consider it.”

I didn’t know raising something like $1bn was easy, but then, I’m not the chairman of an investment bank like Keith Harris is. He’s also not new to football or to takeovers, as a former Chairman of the Football League, and as the man who negotiated a much more successful takeover by an American investor in the Premier League: Randy Lerner’s at Aston Villa.

Tellingly, at the time of Lerner’s takeover in 2006 Harris said that “Randy has inherited a club without borrowing huge sums of money which would be needed to service a debt.”

Presumably, Harris’ takeover plan for Man Utd is similar, even at the much higher cost it would take to buy out the Glazers, with Harris reportedly one of the “Red Knights” United’s supporters’ groups have been talking to for some time.

The question is whether any of these groups are prepared to step up the protest to include a boycott of the stadium as Harris wants, to force a sale. The indication from the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) this week seemed to be the opposite, as it was emphasised that the team’s fortunes had taken an uptick since the green & gold started appearing at Old Trafford in a MUST press release last week, calling it the “green and goals campaign”:

United have scored an incredible 22 goals and the fantastic atmosphere created from supporters wearing the colours of green and gold has been transmitting to players on the pitch.

The consensus from many reds is the atmosphere, certainly at Old Trafford has been better than anyone can remember in recent times. In the game against Man City the stadium shook with noise and it felt like a throwback to thirty years ago, for those of us old enough to remember

No supporter is being pushed into green and gold, above all, anyone joining the campaign remains fully positive and 100% behind the team and in their support for Sir Alex and the players on the field

Whether at Old Trafford, The Emirates, Villa Park or the San Siro – Fergie’s wish has been granted. Reds have got behind the team noisy, determined and newly optimistic about the potential future ownership of the club by supporters of Manchester United.

The trickiest part for any supporters’ protest is always how to know when it’s time to “turn your back” on the team, and it’s the option most likely to alienate the most fans from the campaign. So far, MUST and others have played it right symbolically to turn the chords of discontent into a mass choir at Old Trafford.

But sooner or later, Harris’ point has to be addressed: how can the Glazers be forced out without cutting off their income?  One way to start would be to begin by boycotting club merchandise matchday purchaes at Old Trafford as a first step, before ramping up the boycott if the Glazers refuse to sell.

Quick Hits

  • A torrent of news stories have appeared in recent days on the impasse in MLS labour negotiations. I almost don’t know where to tell you to start if you haven’t been following every twist and turn, though Ridge Mahoney has a good summary and analysis of the statements by the league and the players’ union today. He summarises the key difference, which appears to be over free agency, as follows: “In professional sports leagues there are myriad forms of free agency, only a few of which constitute outright, free-wheeling bidding wars. What the league really fears is not a few teams amassing the best talent through sheer financial clout, but — aside from damaging the underpinnings of a single-entity system — players fleeing poorly run teams to well-managed operations as soon as they can. A protectionism policy on parity is hardly the hallmark of a growth industry, which MLS purports itself to be. “
  • China’s match-fixing scandal sees two clubs relegated from the Super League, including Sheffield United affiliate club Chengdu Blades.
  • The Guardian looks at the state of England’s World Cup bid; unharmed by tabloid gossip about the likes of John Terry and Ashley Cole, yes, but still working out the best way to suck up to Jack Warner. Not a pleasant assignment, that.

The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.

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