Friday, January 22, 2010

The only way for fans to force to change is to vote with their wallets

Source: Daily Mirror

By Simon Mullock

Published 10:00 22/01/10

Manchester United fans have tried almost everything to force the Glazer family out of Old Trafford – including forming another club.

Thirty-five miles down the East Lancs Road, Liverpool’s finest have made it clear that Tom Hicks and George Gillett are not welcome at Anfield.

It has become so desperate that there has even been talk – or rather whispers - of the two rival factions calling a brief truce and joining together to prevent the north west of England continuing as America’s Soccer State.

The posturing and rhetoric, the demos and banners, the e-mails and letters might make the supporters feel good because at least they are actually doing something.

But the bottom line – literally – is that there’s only one thing that hard-nosed businessmen like the Glazer brothers, Hicks and Gillett understand: Money.

They can live with the bruised ego that comes from an irate fan calling them a ****. But hit them in the wallet and watch their eyes water.

Unfortunately, for groups like the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust and the Spirit of Shankly they are unlikely to ever come up with the reddies that will tempt the Americans to sell.

And that means the only alternative, as unthinkable and shameful as it may seem to football fans of every ilk, is for the supporters of United and Liverpool to boycott their clubs.

A few thousand United fans walked out of Old Trafford five years ago to give their support to FC United of Manchester. It had no impact on the Glazers whatsoever.

If a few thousand more refused to renew their season tickets those places would be filled in an instant.

But if 30,000 “customers” – and that’s how the Glazer’s see them - sent back season tickets, refused to visit the megastore and cut up their MUFC credit cards, how long would it be before the owners’ crumbling business plan collapsed completely? Six months? A year?

If anything, Liverpool’s owners rely even more heavily on a club standard that states ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone.’

Again, there is a long waiting list for season tickets, so the dissension would have to be widespread to guarantee a half-full Anfield and the thus force the owners to the negotiating table with a realistic valuation of the club for potential buyers.

It’s the fans that make a football club.

What the owners of United and Liverpool have exploited is that club loyalties are unbreakable. Like genes, they are part of you, passed down through the generations.

One flag I’ve seen around the world on my travels covering United states: ‘United, Kids, Wife. In that order.’

The Glazers might not understand football, but they know how to fleece a fanatic like him. Double the price of a ticket and if he pays, double it again.

The only way to remove club owners who are only in it for the money is for fans to take away the hold they have on them.

A boycott of Old Trafford and Anfield is akin to asking the impossible.

But who would have thought a few years ago that these two rival sets of supporters would, in a way, share a common goal?