Premier League talking points: Man Utd protests, time never better for fans to be heard
Man Utd fans hurl flares at Sky Sports pundits
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Matthew Dunn addresses the only real talking point to come out of the Premier League this weekend – after the unprecedented postponement of Manchester United’s game with Liverpool, where does English football go from here?
VIOLENT FANS NEED TO BE CONDEMNED
Two policemen spent the night in hospital. Damage was caused to a Sky broadcasting unit and the club’s ground itself.
If the Manchester United Supporters Trust want to be a force for good then they must identify and distance themselves from all that is bad. Firing flares… throwing bottles… this has as little place in football as greedy American financial institutions looking to squeeze every dollar possible from the game.
Sing, shout and get behind the cause. Fans need only to be fans to fight best for the cause – not hooligans.
THIS IS THE PERFECT STORM
Widespread unease about the persistent greed of the Dirty Dozen, riddled with self-interest despite, in the case of the biggest English clubs, having been called out for Project Big Picture.
The desperation of EFL clubs such that they would readily jump into bed with the latter scheme.
The long-term impact of coronavirus on finances which could be felt for the rest of the decade.
Clubs just a few miles from Old Trafford such as Bury going bust for want of the sort of money a Manchester United player could earn in a couple of months.
Fans have been completely disenfranchised and more importantly, missed. The empty stadiums have made us all realise fans cannot be taken for granted. And then the fat cat owners do precisely that.
YOU CANNOT PROTEST FOR A BETTER OWNER
The current state of football is not just a Manchester United problem – the problems are shared throughout the football pyramid.
But not evenly.
Across the city, the blue half of Manchester have been largely forgiving of their owners for the mis-step of getting involved in the ESL. But they, though, are Good Owners. The Glazers are Bad Owners. It took a while but Roman Abramovich is also a Good Owner. Arsenal are so desperate they just want Different Owners.
One thing all owners have in common, though, is that they bought their clubs for the going rate at the time.
The estimated value of the 20 Premier League clubs alone is £15 bn. For the game to adopt a “50 per cent plus one” approach, half that has to be found to reimburse the owners for their shares even if there was a will to do it.
Good Owners, like Good Players and Good Managers, come and go through history. Manchester United was born when four businessmen saved Newton Heath from a winding up order. Six years later, they won their first title. Nobody was wearing yellow and green scarves that day, I’ll bet.
How well a club is run all feeds into the sporting difference on the field and is as part of the game as a good youth system or a historical pedigree that makes you the biggest team in the world whether you are winning league titles or not.
FANS DO DESERVE BETTER THOUGH
Tickets are obscenely overpriced. Fans that want to stand safely are not allowed to. They are not considered grown-up enough’ like rugby or cricket fans, to have a pint while they watch the game.
All owners, good or bad, should be forced through the terms of their ownership to address these problems.
Kick-off times are more nuanced. Being flexible means bigger broadcast revenue means more expensive, better players to watch. But at the inconvenience of fans.
It is the sort of judgment call that would be improved by having fan representation on every board.
Of course, Good Owners will use it; Bad Owners will abuse it.
But with the right covenants in place, even the worst owner will be made to do more good than they are at the moment.
AND REMEMBER – THE PEOPLE REALLY DO OWN THE GAME
Sponsorship, broadcasting rights, gate receipts, merchandise – every pound that comes into football is because an individual fan, somewhere, loves the game enough to spend money on it.
So those lucky enough to amass the biggest fortunes off that fact have a duty to the health of the sport as a whole.
Premier League clubs need to contribute much more to keep football alive down the pyramid.
Hopefully, the sugar daddy Good Owners will see it as a worthy part of engaging in their passion.
At the same time, it might just frighten the Bad Owner vultures, determined to squeeze money out of the game, away.
Action needs to be taken.
Football fans now have to make sure they take the right action so that football does likewise.
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