On Saturday April 16, 2022, The 1958, a supporters group that describe themselves as “An underground group of reds intent on upholding the values of Manchester United, its culture and traditions” helped organize one of the largest protests against the ownership of the Glazers since the protests opposing the ESL. By estimates from the media, over 1,000 peaceful protesters gathered outside Old Trafford on Saturday before our game against Norwich to express the collective discontent with the Glazer family.
In addition to destroying the football club, the Glazers made several promises after the monumental failure of the ESL. For example, Joel Glazer would interact with fans and be available for interviews, introduction of a fan ownership scheme, etc. Not even one of those promises have been met. But the Glazers continue to take out dividends from the club’s treasure chest. Dividends that they take for the privilege of owning a club they have no interest in investing. The same dividends that in any other scenario would be re-invested back to the club.
It is no surprise at all that fans are angry and feel helpless. Manchester United has become a monarchy, ruled by the mad king and his offspring who couldn’t care less. And history is proof that great dynasties and monarchies have been ousted when the people they are supposed to serve wake up and share a common voice. Of course, the comparing of oppression of the masses to the ownership of a football club is not just or appropriate. But the lesson remains true now as it was during the French revolution or the Civil Rights movement or any other protest in history – protests and having our voices heard will make a difference. It is not a quick fix, sadly. But it works. And we as supporters need to continue to raise our voices against the Glazer family.
Back to the protests on Saturday. Over a thousand protestors gathered at the Tollgate pub at 2 pm where the demonstration began and marched towards Old Trafford. The demonstration turned into poetry as the crowd marched through the Munich tunnel chanting “Love United, Stay Outside”, “Joel Glazer is going to die” and “We want Glazers out” while green-gold and red flares gave the impression that this was no ordinary protest, and we may have in our hands the beginning of the end for the Glazers. Or at least, one can hope.
Riot police were stationed around Old Trafford and at the Munich Tunnel, and the club decided to close the Store along with other corporate venues/entrances. Clearly, they took notice, and you could go as far as to say that they were spooked. Kudos, fans. Also salute to all who attended the protest and the organizers for keeping it respectful, peaceful, and effective. An incredibly hard thing to do when you have 1,000+ people gathered with flaring emotions.
While this was going on outside, inside even as the match started on time, the fans chanted anti-Glazer songs. You could say if the Glazers had a shred of shame, they’d be long gone. But they don’t. And they won’t. And we need to keep this fight going and find ways to make it hurt.
History has many lessons that can be drawn. ‘Pundits’ like Simon Jordan ridicule fans for protesting, but all they are doing is exposing their ignorance and how far disconnected they are from reality. While there are several personalities with fan followings and who pretend to be serious journalists like Simon, others in the media will play an important role in ensuring the Glazers feel the shame and pain all the way across in Florida.
We need allies in the media, and that single-handedly could amplify the fans’ voices to reverberate across the globe. It may take a decade or more. But we have to keep going and making sure the Glazers hear our voices and discontent at every possible junction. On that note, The 1958 will continue to organize protests – the next one is on April 28th during the Chelsea game. Let’s all do what we can to be there or support the protestors and spread the word far and wide. One single cohesive protest can make a world of difference.