United fans are missing the point

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United fans are missing the point

By Roy Collins  (Filed: 12/06/2005)

If Manchester United supporters could take their heads out of their Eric Cantona replica shirts for a moment, they might address the real issue of the Malcolm Glazer takeover. And if they were to make that small step into the real world, they could be pleasantly surprised to find themselves earning sympathy from the rest of the football world for a change, instead of its contempt.

Sadly, United fans, like Glazer himself, seem only interested in the bottom line, raging at reports that ticket prices at Old Trafford will rise from ?30 to ?46 over the next five years. Did any of them imagine that United were preparing to hold prices, or even offer them at a knockdown price on eBay before the big bad Yank rode into town? At ?30, United fans are privileged to watch some of the cheapest top-class football in the world, paying not much more than Bolton supporters.

United fans also complain about manager Sir Alex Ferguson being restricted to an annual transfer budget of ?25 million. Yet that is roughly what he has spent in recent years and he has already dipped into his new budget to sign goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar. That he was able to do so before Glazer had even finished his boardroom reshuffle suggests that his style is not about to be cramped.

The prime concern about the Glazer takeover, for the whole of English football and not just those wearing United red, is that, like Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, he has no real feel or understanding for the game, no sense of its romance and its place in the heart of lifelong fans. To be fair, that is also at the root of some United fans' complaints. Football clubs may long ago have lost their place in the heart of their communities but it is another thing altogether for them to become just part of a multi-millionaire's portfolio.

It is ironic, however, that Abramovich is seen as a benevolent sugar daddy while Glazer is regarded more as Alan Sugar's spiritual brother.

They are, in fact, both peas from the same pod, both highly secretive, ruthless businessmen.

The Abramovich model does not augur well for Old Trafford. Under him, Chelsea have shown absolutely no regard or respect for rivals, no sense of decency and behaved in a manner that fits Oscar Wilde's definition of a cynic - someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Worst of all, Abramovich's Chelsea have absolutely no shame about their transgressions this season, giving the impression that they are laughing at the rest of us behind their hands.

Now we have another man who has no interest in the wider good of the game.

Like Abramovich, of course, Glazer will be desperate to build a successful side, but not because he yearns to take an open-top bus ride around Salford cuddling that enormous Champions League trophy. For him, trophies are something to be added to a balance sheet, translating into bigger profits, more global recognition, more brand awareness, more replica shirts and ultimately, a much higher price when he sells the club, as he surely will.

The real issue for those who care about football in this country is how Glazer goes about achieving that. Will he become another Abramovich, dragging the good name of United through the gutter that Chelsea have trawled these past nine, distasteful months?

Supporters' talk of boycotting the games only detracts from that issue. And in any case, for every fan who stays away, there will be three ready to take his place.

If United fans think ?46 is a lot to pay, they should try being Chelsea fans, although, no doubt, some of the pot-hunters among their number might already have done.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtm...12/ixfooty.html

Makes point to me!


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