AFPA dramatic protest by angry Manchester United supporters that forced the postponement of a Premier League clash against historic rivals Liverpool was the result of a long-running feud with the American club’s owners, the Glazer family.
Hundreds of fans managed to make their way inside Old Trafford on Sunday, chanting “we want Glazers out“, referring to the Florida-based family that have owned the club since a controversial £790 million ($1.1 billion) debt-leveraged takeover in 2005.
It was the third protest by United fans in little over a week, following the farcical collapse of a proposed breakaway European Super League, for which United and Liverpool were reportedly two of the leading drivers behind the project.
“Let’s be very clear that no-one wants what happened at Old Trafford yesterday (Sunday) to be a regular event,” the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust said in an open letter to co-chairman Joel Glazer.
“What happened was the culmination of 16 years in which your family’s ownership of the club has driven us into debt and decline, and we have felt ever more sidelined and ignored.”
“Yesterday, that frustration reached boiling point,” the Trust added, while condemning incidents that left a police officer needing emergency hospital treatment.
The Super League — an attempt to guarantee top level European football for 15 founder members every season in a closed-shop style tournament — was widely condemned not only by fans, but also players, governments and governing bodies.
While supporters of the six Premier League teams involved were unified in their contempt for such a project, arguing it was nakedly motivated by greed, it was viewed by many United followers at the latest betrayal of a club founded by a group of railway workers in 1878.
Early in the Glazers’ reign, United fans wore the green and gold colours of Newton Heath, the club that eventually became Manchester United 24 years later, as a sign of protest.
A debt-free organisation before the Glazer takeover, the acquisition is estimated to have cost United over £1 billion in interest, fees and refinancing penalties during their ownership. Club accounts in March revealed current debt of £455.5 million.
The Glazers also own reigning super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.