Thousands of Manchester United fans gathered outside Old Trafford on Saturday to protest against the Glazer family’s ownership.
The protest follows a tumultuous week when United were one of the founding members – along with five other English clubs – of the proposed European Super League.
A large number of supporters assembled by the Trinity Statue, setting off flares, hanging banners and scarves outside Old Trafford, with many wearing the green and gold colours synonymous with fan protests against the Glazers which have occurred since the American family acquired the club back in 2005.
One sign on show fumed: “Glazers out, Woodward out, after £1bn stolen from MUFC”, while another banner read: “United against greed”.
- Florentino Perez: Binding contracts mean that clubs cannot leave ESL
- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: I’m glad ESL failed despite good relations with Glazers
- Notebook: Glazers Out protests, Ed Woodward’s legacy
Ahead of the protest scheduled for 3pm on Saturday, supporters’ groups had urged fans via their social media accounts to wear masks and remain compliant with public health protocols.
Earlier in the day, a number of Liverpool fans also protested prior to their lunchtime kick-off with Newcastle at Anfield, to convey their desire to see principal owner John W Henry and the Fenway Sports Group franchise sell up over their handling of the Super League crisis.
Henry has issued a public apology on the matter while Jurgen Klopp has urged Reds fans not to turn on their owners, but he admitted they had made a “bad decision”.
It is the second time United fans have publicly expressed displeasure with the Glazers this week. On Thursday, a small group of supporters broke into the club’s Carrington training centre to voice their discontent with the owners.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Nemanja Matic later spoke with fans at the protest and listened to their grievances.
Joel Glazer, named European Super League vice-chairman when the announcement was made last Sunday, apologised on Wednesday in a letter to all United fans after the club pulled out of the competition.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward tendered his resignation to the board following the aborted Super League plans but he will remain in his post until the end of the year.
Sky Sports News understands that Woodward resigned because he could not support the owners’ plans to join a Super League, but a chief executive at another Premier League club has said he was involved in the scheme “from day one”.
Another organised fan protest is scheduled to take place immediately before United’s home game with Liverpool on May 2.
United’s Class of ’92 stars Gary Neville and Nicky Butt joined the chorus of condemnation towards the Super League project, lambasting their former club for its part in the plans.
Former midfielder Butt said the actions of the owners of the 12 European sides demonstrated “the worst case of bullying”, adding that it didn’t matter whether United apologised or not over their participation in the ESL.
Sunday 25th April 1:00pm
Kick off 2:00pm
United take on Leeds away at Elland Road on Sunday, live on Sky Sports, with Solskjaer’s side aiming to secure Champions League qualification for next season with a top-four finish in the Premier League.
During his press conference on Friday, the United manager said he retained a “good relationship” with the club’s owners in spite of the chaotic period since the night of Sunday, April 18, but admitted he was glad that the project had failed.
Meanwhile, Sky News has learned that two of the figures who led an attempt to prise United from the Glazer family’s control a decade ago have urged them to loosen their financial grip on the club.
Lord O’Neill – the architect of the Red Knights campaign in 2010 – and the hedge fund manager Sir Paul Marshall have written to co-chairman Joel Glazer to demand a string of immediate corporate governance reforms.
The letter requested that the Glazers commit to reducing their combined stake from the current level – which stands at roughly 75 per cent – to a maximum of 49.9 per cent.
JP Morgan, the American investment bank which is backing the Super League project, released a statement on Friday, saying the company had “clearly misjudged how this deal would be viewed by the wider football community and how it might impact them in the future”.
The protest at Old Trafford follows a similar demonstration outside the Emirates Stadium on Friday where thousands of Arsenal fans exercised their displeasure towards owner Stan Kroenke before their home defeat by Everton, with some setting off flares and fireworks and hanging banners outside the ground.
Protests also took place earlier in the week at Elland Road before Leeds’ 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Monday, and at Stamford Bridge ahead of Chelsea’s game with Brighton a day later, as supporters expressed their discontent towards the project – which has been met by almost universal derision from football fans, players, managers, and governing bodies.
The 14 other Premier League clubs not involved in the breakaway plans want officials at the six clubs who plotted the European Super League initiative to be removed from their jobs.
Supporters’ groups also met with prime minister Boris Johnson and culture secretary Oliver Dowden earlier this week to vent their opinions on the Super League project. The government have subsequently launched a fan-led review into football governance following meetings with the FA, the Premier League and fan organisations.
The six would-be breakaway Premier League clubs attempted to “kill English football forever” and both punishments and new legislation must follow, Gary Neville told Sky Sports’ Football’s Civil War special show documenting a historic week for the game.
Speaking at the end of a tumultuous week for European football, Neville, who called the plans for a European Super League ‘disgusting’ when they first emerged, gave his thoughts on how close the English game came to an “attempted murder” from the six clubs who had planned to break away from the UEFA Champions League.
Neville said: “We nearly lost it, we nearly lost football in this country, in the way in which we’ve always known it which is fair and competitive. And we nearly lost our top six clubs from it. How can we be in that position ever again?
“Most of us would go along with a theory of an apology is acceptable. An apology is not acceptable in this instance, with regards to the six clubs. It can never be accepted, because last Sunday what they announced was the attempted murder of English football.
“They attempted to kill English football forever, and they would have done it if they could. They attempted to take £300m extra every single year for the next 23 years as a guarantee for a different competition that other clubs couldn’t get into.
“They then wanted to come back into our league, the Premier League, with £300m extra and expect the league to be as competitive as it has been over the last 20, 30, 40 years. It would have destroyed the ethos of English football, it would have destroyed West Bromwich Albion, it would have destroyed Brighton and Hove Albion, it would have destroyed Everton. It would have destroyed Ajax and Bayern Munich in the German league.
“What these six clubs have tried to do is freeze time, freeze the fact they are the ‘big six’ forever. That means you take away the ambition of every other single football club in this country to try and get into that top six, and that is absolutely scandalous. Saying I am sorry is not enough. Enough is enough, we have to do something big.”