Monday, 22 March 2010

United's Green and Gold Drug Addiction

Such is the growing popularity of Manchester United fans surrendering the usual red colours in favour of adorning themselves in green and gold, you could be forgiven for thinking that Liverpool were playing Norwich City at Old Trafford a couple of weekends ago.

The drastic change in colours however, is not a rampant flash in the pan, David Beckham inspired fashion statement that is sweeping through the Stretford end. Rather, the green and gold harks back to yesteryear, to a time when Manchester United were more pleasantly known as Newton Heath. But, more importantly than the origins of the green and gold colours, the reason for the homage to their heritage, is the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) futile protest, or should I say response, to the Glazer's ownership.

While I commend peaceful protest, and admire the way in which the green and gold scarves have rapidly become common place amongst United Folk, I think Glazer will see it as little more than an uncomfortable soiled stain, wrapped around the already exploited punter. Sure, it will be a little awkward for Glazer, seeing the visual public display of how much his ownership is despised, but I wouldn't be surprised if he mistook the green and gold scarves for United's soon to be announced 2010/11 home colours. Either that, or I have far underestimated Glazer, and he is already hatching a plan, to source and deliver green and gold scarves, which he will sell on match day for the paltry sum of 99 quid a pop. Cutting out MUST in the process. In fact, why stop at just green and gold scarves? Merchandise sales of all shapes and sizes could literally be doubled with the extension of green and gold mugs and the likes.

The point is, United fans, are unwavering in their support and still show up in their droves on match day, eager for their weekly fix. I don't blame them, I'm sure any club in a similar situation as United would probably react in the same way. Que, blue and white scarves in the Kop. However, this addiction to support the club, in an unconditional no matter what attitude, is the very thing that keeps the money flowing into Malcolm Glazer "the dealers" pocket. Just as a dealer prays on the addiction of people looking for a fix on the street, Glazer keeps pushing his product at ever more extortionate prices, knowing full well the faithful will be seduced. Instead of mountains of coke on the glass table, its a tier of seats or a mound of pure, pristine shirts to push. "Got any Glazer".

So what is the addicted fan to do? Hoping that MUST prompt the Red Knights in to action is wish full thinking. The campaign, may have received a lot of attention, which I commend it for, and arguably it could even be the inspiration behind Labours announcement today to give Supporters a mandatory portion of shares. However, Labour were taking about reform in Club ownership 13 years ago, why has nothing been done until now? Call me cynical, but with an election approaching, this could be a huge vote winner, so I find it as no surprise it is now part of their manifesto. Besides, the smug faced Tory boy will probably get in anyway, and the Conservatives describe labours plans as a gimmick, which is probably not too far from the truth, but doesn't exactly fill you with confidence that they have an alternative to the free market model.

Political rant aside, and despite the good work MUST have done, the only way I can see their being any drastic change in the ownership, is by going cold turkey. All united fans will need to be rounded up and locked in their bedroom, until detoxified. Ignore the screams and crying. In other words, hit Glazer where it hurts, which is in his pocket. Well your in his pocket, shave off that ridiculous beard as well.

As with going cold turkey, the immediate prospects for United fans and more significantly the club would be very painful. A boycott of Manchester United product, in what ever form it comes in, whether it be season tickets or merchandise would have serious ramifications for performances on the pitch, but, unless Glazer starts to lose a noticeable amount of money, to the point where he is unable to withdraw 10m Stirling for "Management and Administration" fees, then he will keep milking the United cash cow for all its worth.

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