Man United's decline is bad for the Premier League, says Richard Scudamore
Premier League chief executive bemoans Old Trafford problems, admitting the competition's worldwide appeal could be harmed.
Published 28/03/2014 | 08:05
Manchester United’s woeful season has potentially damaging consequences for the worldwide appeal of the Premier League, according to Richard Scudamore.
The Premier League’s chief executive admits the global popularity of English football will decline if United do not recover from this season’s slump.
Speaking in South Africa as part of the Premier League’s promotional work in the country, Scudamore acknowledged the mass appeal of United is key to attracting an overseas audience but viewers may turn off if their favourites are underperforming.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” said Scudamore. “When your most popular club isn’t doing as well, that costs you interest and audience in some places.”
“There’s lots of fans around the world who wish Manchester United were winning it again, but you have to balance that off against, generally, we’re in the business of putting on a competition and competition means people can compete.
United face exile from the Champions League next season unless they can win this year’s competition and may face several years of rebuilding given their alarming recent dip.
They have established themselves as the best supported of England’s clubs, alongside Liverpool and Arsenal, although in recent years Chelsea and Manchester City have built their own strong fan bases across Africa and Asia.
A group of Manchester United supporters have raised £840 to fund an aeroplane to fly over Old Trafford with an anti-David Moyes message. The supporters have put the money together to hire the plane with the order: 'Wrong One – Moyes Out’ to go overhead during Saturday’s Premier League home match against Aston Villa.
The Republik of Mancunia website, who first reported the plans, said: 'The message is a response to the Stretford End Flags banner which reads “The Chosen One”.
Following United’s 3-0 defeat against City yesterday, stewards were sent to protect the banner at full time, after there were concerns that fans would want to remove it.’
As yet, there have been no public protests within the ground, home or away, but it is expected that will change at the weekend when United face Villa.’
It is a direct challenge to the Stretford End Flags group, who say they will not take down the 'Chosen One’ banner inside Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, United’s famed 'Class of ’92’ have taken their first step into club ownership. Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers have agreed a deal in principle to buy non-league Salford City, of Northern Premier League Division One. The purchase will go through subject to Football Association and Northern Premier League approval.
“Everyone knows how important Salford is to me, so this is an exciting acquisition that is right at the heart of what we all believe in,” said Giggs. “We want to engage the football community, use our football experience and knowledge to aspire and nurture young talent and being able to do that in Salford makes it even more exciting.”
Gary Neville, who retired in 2011 and is now a highly respected TV pundit added: “I had my first trial for Manchester United in Salford at age 11 and I will never forget how important that was to me. Salford City FC to me represents those early years, the commitment, hunger, enthusiasm, desire and spirit of football and I am very excited about this venture.”