Opinions

Why a walk-out against Wolves is crucial for Manchester United

The Glazers must be forced out of Old Trafford

The Glazers’ takeover of Manchester United wasn’t something most were overjoyed by – and after examining the means by which they took over one can hardly be confused as to why that’s the case.

A photo of the 3 Glazers siblings that are associated most with Manchester United Football Club.
Bryan Glazer, Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer.
(Goal.com)

A majority of the capital The Glazers used to take over the club came in the form of loans that were secured against club assets. The initial interest payments per year in order to service the loans were more than £60m per year. The rest of the money came in the form of PIK (Payment In Kind: a type of high risk loan that allows borrowers to pay interest with additional debt rather than cash) loans. The burden of this near £540m debt was, as you can guess, placed on the club instead of The Glazer family. Despite Ed Woodward saying that the debt “doesn’t really have an impact” on Manchester United, it’s important to note that this once debt-free club has spent “more than £1b in interest, fees, refinancing penalties and other dead money.” The Glazers left Manchester United with another gift – Ed Woodward.

A leak in Old Trafford’s roof caused by lack of proper maintenance.
(SoccerAM)

Ed Woodward has overseen a period of mediocrity at Manchester United, after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. His tenure includes multiple failures, the spending of £840m in the transfer markets with little to show for it among them. Under his stewardship, Manchester United also have the second highest wage bill in the Premier League but have 2nd place, achieved only once under Jose Mourinho in the 17/18 season, as the highest position they have finished since Sir Alex left the club (that too because David De Gea’s performances allowed United to massively outperform their xGA as shown in the image below.) This would come as no surprise whatsoever given that this is the man, Manchester United’s Executive Vice Chairman, that proclaimed that “playing performance doesn’t really have a meaningful impact on what we do on the commercial side.”

Even still, the man pockets an estimated £3.15m a year and owns 539,000 Manchester United Class A shares, worth almost $11m. Not bad for a failure, huh? Except he’s no failure. He’s doing exactly the job his bosses, The Glazers, have hired him to do: extract every possible penny from Manchester United for them to line their pockets with.

MUFC 17/18 Goals Against (GA) compared to Expected Goals Against (xGA)
(Understat)

How have supporters protested against The Glazers in the past?

“Love United, Hate Glazer.”

“Love United, Hate Glazer” is an increasingly common phrase on “Football Twitter” nowadays. You’d be hard pressed to scroll for very long without coming across an “LUHG” account running their diatribe against Woodward and The Glazers. It is however, quite an old phrase, utilized ever since the family took over the club in 2005.

Supporters have tried multiple means of vanquishing what the believe to be the sinister presence of The Glazers. When the takeover was fresh, a few loyalists banded together to form “FC United of Manchester.” It’s safe to say that effort didn’t amount to much – the club is still playing in the 7th tier of English football. Another example is when wealthy United supporters, dubbing themselves the “Red Knights” attempted to instigate a takeover from The Glazers, ultimately failing since they were not willing to pay the hefty fee The Glazers asked for. One of the biggest moments for the movement was when David Beckham, then playing for AC Milan, donned the green and gold scarf. Proponents of the movement saw it as Beckham supporting them. At the time, Beckham declined to comment.

David Beckham wearing the green and gold scarf of the “Love United, Hate Glazer” movement.
(Full Time Devils)

Fast forward to the past couple of years. Supporters have held multiple protests online. #GlazersOut”, #SackWoodward and #UnfollowManUnited gained quite a bit of traction in social media. Several news houses such as The Daily Mail and even Fox Sports Asia covered this raging wildfire like movement. All of these movements had one things in common – they were accompanied with regular checking of United’s performance in the stock exchange to evaluate whether the club were being hurt financially (spoiler: they weren’t in a significant way.) Supporters eventually realized that their qualms and irritations needed to be aired in person.

As Burnley dismissed United with a 0-2 victory at Old Trafford, supporters chanted aloud “Stand up if you hate Glazers” and lo and behold the entire stadium was on its feet. The chants slowly descended into some with far more malice injected in them, “Build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put the Glazers on the top, put Woodward in the middle, and burn the f****** lot.” Make of that chant what you will but it’s clear as day Manchester United fans are more furious than ever. The anti-Glazer and anti-Woodward chants continued at Prenton Park as Tranmere Rovers were obliterated by United 0-6. All this fury reached a climax as on January 29th, a gathering of approximately 20 to 30 Manchester United “supporters” went to Ed Woodward’s home in Cheshire and lit flares while threatening him. Some on Twitter believe that the whole thing was a publicity stunt orchestrated by Woodward’s new PR firm headed by Neil Ashton, formerly of The Sun. In any case, assuming it was completely legitimate, such actions are uncalled for. Mass walk-outs are far better alternatives and that brings us to the planned walk-out as United welcome Wolves to Old Trafford on Saturday, February 1st 2020.

The walk-out against Wolves

The walk-out is designed and planned to utilize the sheer size of Old Trafford’s 75,000 strong seating capacity to the supporters’ advantage. The walk-out is planned for the 58th minute of the game, in homage to The Munich Air Tragedy on February 6th 1958 that claimed the lives of many, several Busby Babes among them.

The walk-out should be supported by every match-going United supporter. In truth, it’s probably the only way supports can make the money obsessed higher ups take notice. I assure you – a barren Old Trafford will strike fear into their hearts like no other. It will be spoken of and reported by the media throughout the football world. The world will take notice, The Glazers will have no choice but to as well. Some Manchester United supporters may be disheartened and ponder as to what this walk-out will really accomplish. Other supporters would feel as if walking out would mean they are being “bad supporters” or even dishonoring the memory of The Busby Babes and all they stood for. I can understand your qualms and unease. However, to them I put this question: Won’t the greatest disservice to The Busby Babes’ memory, and to Manchester United as a great football institution, be allowing The Glazers to continue pillaging the club that many poured blood, sweat and tears into building?

Someone wise once said, “Do or do not. There is no try.” In response I ask, isn’t there? The time has come to put Manchester United back on track to the top. Your support for the walk-out against Wolves will be the jolt the Glazers need to wake up.

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