Club Focus – Manchester United – Glazer march gathering momentum

There’s never a dull moment at Old Trafford, but after a relatively harmonious few days in which Wayne Rooney has re-committed himself to the club – followed by a couple of morale-boosting late wins – the soap opera continues on Saturday with the anti-Glazer protest before the clash with Tottenham.

The dissatisfaction with the American ownership has ran deep since day one, and has increasingly grown with every ticket price hike and interest payment since Avi, Joel and Bryan slipped past the police barricades and into the confines of the Boardroom to purchase the club back in May 2005.

Whilst there have always been dissenting noises towards the Glazer family and their methods of business, the volume has been turned up since the start of the year, and will reach a carnivorous crescendo by Saturday evening. Estimations are varying wildly, but depending what and where you read, there could be anywhere up to 50,000 Reds on the move.

At 4pm the proposed anti-Glazer march will depart from the Tollgate Pub – about a mile from the stadium – and wind its way down Sir Matt Busby Way and onto the cheap red plastic seats which now cost on average almost 50% more than they did prior to the Glazers arriving. These will be the same cheap red plastic seats of which some were prominent against Wolves on Wednesday night, when United recorded their second-lowest attendance since the turn of the century with a turnout of just 46,083.

It’s amazing to think that Manchester United’s second lowest crowd of the century, is still more than champions Chelsea pull in on a weekly basis, yet the fact that the Reds are currently playing second fiddle to the Londoners only fuels the dissatisfaction towards the regime.

Although the Rooney saga was eventually brought to a satisfactory conclusion, his comments regarding the club lacking ambition and being unable to sign the world’s top players were brought out on the back of his dialogue with the club’s top brass. The fact Rooney expressed his opinions publicly added further ire towards the Glazers, and did little to quell the much-held theory that the crippling debts are having a detrimental effect on the pitch, and will continue to do so as long as vast sums of Manchester United Football Club money finds its way into American investment banks.

Although a protest of this magnitude has been some time in coming – given that Liverpool appeared to have three a week – it was essentially launched on the back of the release of the club’s annual financial figures at the start of the month, which revealed United made a net loss of over £80m despite posting a record turnover. Virtually all of these losses were directly linked to the debt accrued during the takeover, and showed just how much money was being taken out of the club coffers.

The books show United are over £500m in debt, and pay approximately £40m a year back in interest repayments. To put this into context, since the Glazers took over, United’s annual net transfer spend is under £2m. That’s twenty times less on transfers than debts. The average price of a season ticket has risen from £487 prior to takeover, to £722 this season. A price differential worked across 55,000 season ticket holders at almost £13m a year. That’s another £11m a year from the fans’ pockets which seemingly doesn’t go towards transfers.

Green and gold? The Glazers are lucky they’re not black and blue.

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