Protesters did more damage to Manchester United than the Glazers could
Astonishingly, this has happened during a time when fans are not allowed in stadiums on account of measures to restrict the spread of Covid-19.
Yes, millions of football fans all over the world – the hordes of supporters of Manchester United and Liverpool, the five Manchester City supporters in Singapore hoping that their team would be crowned champions of the Premier League if Manchester United had lost, the neutral millions like me who were simply hoping to watch an epic clash so that we could have a little dig at our friends who supported the losing team after that, and of course, the billions who put trillions of dollars on the result of the match – were denied the kind of action they desired from the Theatre of Dreams for what we have all come to accept is the biggest match after the World Cup Final: Manchester United vs Liverpool.
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What we got instead was a rabble of angry people, purportedly true fans of the great Manchester club, protesting in the interest of the club.
Instead of that annoying fake/canned crowd noise recommended by BBC and other broadcasters for a “better viewer experience” that some of us will never get accustomed to, we were treated to live commentary of the antics of these rowdy protesters. While a statement from Manchester United acknowledged their passionate fans’ right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest, you can’t possibly call it peaceful – even with the intervention of VAR – when property was damaged and two police officers were injured.
“It's been pandemonium,” said United Muppetiers podcaster Mike Parrott at Old Trafford before the big match was called off, according to the BBC.
“Breaking cameras, breaking glass and rushing the stadium, all these terrible things are not what Manchester United fans want to be associated with.
“They shouldn’t be doing it whatsoever. I don’t think this conveys a message that they want the 50+1 fan ownership, which was the original idea. It hasn't really worked in my eyes.”
This United rabble, who want a meaningful stake in the control of their beloved club, thought it OK to break into the stadium and injure police officers.
And as if they had not already made their point, they continued their violent protests until the match had to be called off – just over an hour after its scheduled kick-off.
The protesters want the Glazer family out. They want the control and running of the club to be placed in the hands of the fans. They want “a meaningful share in the ownership of United and a meaningful voice in how it is run”. Smashing cameras, hurling bottles at police officers and disrupting match schedules, especially if it’s a massive event on the season’s fixtures calendar, could become a way of life.
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I would be worried about playing for a club run by such people, if I were a player. And I’d be worried about playing against such a team, if I were their opponents. Apart from having to risk a wasted trip, there’s also the peril of violence, even when fans are not allowed in stadiums yet.
The Manchester United fans involved in last evening’s violence could have exhibited some maturity while exercising their inalienable right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest. Instead, they disrupted the game, the league schedule, the preparations of their team and the lives of other football fans. That’s terrorism, if you ask me.
Yes, if I were a true Manchester United fan instead of the one I’m pretending to be this season while wishing the best for the Red Devils, I would want the Glazers to be replaced. However, I don’t want them to be replaced by a group of violent thugs who probably have no idea how to control themselves, let alone run a club the size of Manchester United. Hell, I wouldn’t trust them with running my neighborhood void-deck five-a-side, let alone the esteemed Red Devils. In fact, I wouldn’t even want to be called a Manchester United fan if their behaviour is representative of the club’s support.
"The government now needs to act,” the group behind the protesters said in a statement.
Indeed they should: by arresting all those who were involved in yesterday’s protests and for wasting 90 minutes of the time of millions of ordinary people who simply wanted to watch a good football match.
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Instead of protesting peacefully and then stopping in time for the match to go on where Manchester United would probably win a penalty which Bruno Fernandes would definitely score, the group has scored a spectacular own goal which could also result in a serious penalty against their own team.
The Glazers could not have done worse.