Officially, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson does not care a wit one way or another about the anti-Glazer Green and Gold supporters, now a regular fixture at every United match, so long as they love the club. Said Ferguson yesterday: “I saw plenty of green and gold scarves at Wembley on Sunday, and I was delighted to see them. I’d even take City fans if they wanted to come along. We’ll take all sinners. As long as they’re supporting United, they can wear what they bloody like.” As for a proposed bid by the “Red Knights,” a collection of wealthy Manchester United supporters including Supporters Trust chief executive, Duncan Drasdo, Ferguson simply referred to David Gill’s reassertion the club was not for sale.
But according to the Observer‘s motley collection of silent sources, the United manager fully backs United’s prospective new owners, a revelation that one source confides will be a “killer blow” to the Glazers’ hold on the club. Even the Observer can’t stop itself from proclaiming that their scoop “…will raise the stakes at a sensitive stage in the bid but may encourage some of the wealthy waverers who have shown tentative interest in signing up to the consortium.”
It’s hard for this non-economist to see just how exactly a few quotes from some unnamed sources will affect the Glazers lack of desire to sell, or affect the Red Knights’ stated intention not to pay more than United’s rumoured £800 million valuation. Likely it will lead to more supporters joining the Manchester United Supporters Trust, which has gone from 60 000 to just under 120 000 since the Red Knights bid was announced, which is certainly a good thing. The Sweeper will wait and see if this story develops, or dies with the Sunday Observer.
Meanwhile, today’s Quick Hits point to a raft of stories on the increasing tensions brought about by continued financial mismanagement in football:
- Portsmouth supporters are preparing for the worst: “Next month it is a big day out at Wembley for potless Portsmouth – and next season they could be playing at Westleigh Park, Havant. A “Plan B” has been drawn up whereby, if Pompey go into liquidation, they will drop down to non-League football in a groundshare with near neighbours Havant & Waterlooville.”
- Steve Menery with a brief-but-excellent report on the recent Soccerex conference, where football’s commercial-minded meet: “Money is still flooding into football but quite how it is shared and regulated is long for change. Everyone at Soccerex knew that but until UEFA’s small print is unveiled, no one will be able to gauge exactly what impact Platini’s attempt to turn football into a more equitable business will really have.”
- A Premier League club will disappear after its owners have cut off all funds from the club. The Russian Premier League, that is. In a story worthy of Simon Kuper’s Football Against the Enemy or Jonathan Wilson’s Behind the Curtain, the decision by FC Moscow’s owners, Norilsk Nickel, to cease their financial support “…is seen by some as part of a conspiracy to promote Alania Vladikavkaz, champions in 1995, to the Premier League. Alania are from the troubled Caucasus region, plagued by extremist violence and poverty. Alexander Khloponin, a former Norilsk Nickel chairman, has just been made the government’s envoy to the region and the club’s promotion will help bolster his position.”
- It didn’t take long for the Independent to point to the ‘goal’ not given to Birmingham late in Portsmouth”s 2-0 quarter-final FA Cup win yesterday as evidence that the International Football Association Board meeting’s decision not to pursue goal-line technology was misguided.