Anti-Glazer campaign fading
Published 15/09/2010 | 12:51
When David Beckham wrapped a green-and-gold scarf around his neck following AC Milan’s Champions League defeat at Manchester United last March, a tangible sense of revolution was in the air at Old Trafford.
A powerful fans’ movement appeared set to achieve the unthinkable and drive despised owners out of their club on a wave of supporter passion and unity.
The publicity Beckham generated for the anti-Glazer campaign was incalculable. Even the sum total of the £716.5m debt amassed at United by the American owners might not have been enough to buy the acres of media space devoted to the iconic image.
The moment should have been a tipping point for the green-and-gold campaign, the launchpad for the proposed season ticket boycott that would have registered a withering blow on the Glazers’ finances.
But it didn’t happen.
The summer came and went with United falling just 2,200 tickets short of their 54,000 sales target and the new home shirt, carrying the name of new sponsor Aon, has been bought in its thousands by the fans, despite calls to snub the jersey in another attempt at choking the club’s revenue streams.
The visit of Rangers was an acid test for the current strength of the campaign, however.
Stayaway supporters of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Glazers’ NFL franchise, have led to TV black-outs in the States, with games kept off the screens due to the club’s failure to sell out for home fixtures, but the fans continue to pour into Old Trafford.
The clash against Rangers, viewed dismissively within Manchester as comparable to next week’s Carling Cup tie against Scunthorpe, was still a virtual sell-out, though, and the sprinkling of green-and-gold was just that – a sprinkling. The torrent has dried up.
So where now for the supporters’ campaign? How else can they test the Glazers’ glass jaw in the shape of the club’s punishing debt burden?
Sunday’s Old Trafford encounter with Liverpool, pained by ownership and debt issues of their own, has been billed as ‘Old Shirt Day’ by United fans planning to wear club shirts pre-dating the Glazers’ 2005 takeover as a subtle dig at the Americans’ corporate exploitation of United brand.
But those supporters’ groups and fanzines who called for a line to be drawn under green-and-gold at the end of last season are still searching for a new strategy.
The Glazers have survived the green-and-gold storm, however, and the full house signs at Old Trafford last night suggest they will approach the next one with their chin ready to be tested once again.