European Super League: Only a total overhaul at the top will satisfy these Manchester United fans

Two men wave bright yellow T-shirts, trying to get the attention of protesters gathering around United’s Trinity statue.

“Get your Glazers Out shirt,” one of them shouts, reading the hashtag printed across the back of the garments.

“Are you selling these?” comes a question from the crowd.

“Then shame on you trying to make a profit from this protest.”

It sums up the sentiment of many Manchester United fans, who this week forced their club to pull out of the ill-fated European Super League (ESL), accusing the club’s owners of greed and prompting an apology Joel Glazer.

It’s the latest of a string of grievances they have against the Glazer family, which has owned the club for 16 years after the late Malcolm Glazer gradually bought out shareholders.

Upon his death, his ownership of United was split between his children – including Joel.

Unaffordable ticket prices, a lack of consultation with fans, and neglect of the stadium – complaints perhaps familiar with fans of other English football clubs too, but the Glazers are accused of giving United fans the cold shoulder.

“That was the first time that Joel Glazer has communicated with United fans in 16 years. Sixteen years of nothing,” says Krishnan, as the crowd around him swells.

There are more than 300 protesters here now and suddenly I feel my skin burning, but it’s not from the sun. Someone walking past has just lit a flare and the embers are flicking off on to us.

“I’ve been following United since 1956,” says a man in a United shirt from the 2001-02 season.

“It’s about time someone spoke out about the parasites at the club.”

By now there are a dozen flares going off, green and yellow – a nod to the club’s founding fathers, Newton Heath – bright red, and even blue.

The blue side of Manchester isn’t here today but the ESL issue briefly united football fans across England.

“There needs to be systemic changes to the way clubs are run,” says another protester, lifting her sunglasses to catch my eye. “Across the whole country, not just at Manchester United, not just the Glazers,” she adds.

In his apology on Wednesday, Joel Glazer acknowledged the wounds are raw, saying: “I understand that it will take time for the scars to heal.”

He committed to “rebuilding trust with our fans and learning from the message you delivered with such conviction”.

The fans here want a 50+1 ownership structure, which would give them control of the club through a voting majority.

Commercial investors would still be able to make suggestions, but would need the fans’ backing to get things done.

For those like Krishnan, that can only happen if there’s change at the top – in personnel, and attitude.

“We’re just really fed up of the way the Glazer regime has been running for 16 years. The stadium is rotting, there’s been no investment in the club, they need to go. It’s just greed, pure greed.”

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