I have long supported the work and development of “Supporters direct“, a non-for profit organization that aims to bring about responsible democratic governance of football clubs through the development of supporter trusts. Thanks largely to their efforts over 160 clubs now have supporter trusts. Clubs that are now owned by their supporters include:
AFC Telford United, AFC Wimbledon, Bramley Buffaloes (RL), Brentford, Cambridge City, Clydebank (Scotland), Enfield Town, Exeter City, FC United of Manchester, Gretna (Scotland), Merthyr Tydfil, Newport (IW) FC, Rochdale Hornets (RL), Runcorn Linnets, Scarborough Athletic.
You will notice the distinct lack of the footballing giants in that list. I was very excited therefore to see the recent developments at Old Trafford. After David Beckhams public display of support for the MUST campaign (Manchester United Supporters Trust) by wearing the green and gold scarf (the original colours of Manchester United) their membership has rocketed to over 134,000! This is an organisation, which aims to remove the glacier family, and ensure a future where the supporters of Manchester United FC take a meaningful ownership stake in the club. Lets not beat around the bush here – this is massive.
Although I support the lads down at AFC Wimbledon and what they are doing there, this is something much different. Manchester United’s annual turnover was £257.1m in the 07-08 season (I guess it has grown since). What’s happening right now is 134,000 (and watch this figure grow) fans directly challenging the crazy financial norms of our times. This is 134,000 fans shouting loud and clear that there is more to football than money. This is a grass-roots mobilization like the sorts never seen before in football. Manchester United rely on their support base through match day tickets and in stadium sales to produce 40% of their revenue. It’s about time; the fans took control of what was theirs. Manchester United MUST change.
The Guardians sport section today confirmed that the Glazier’s are worried about this campaign by revealing that Manchester United players have been gagged from talking about the campaign. MUTV has banned the colours of green and gold (this was enforced by a supporter being ejected from the audience for wearing the scarf and a long serving steward a t the ground has been sacked for returning a confiscated anti-glazier banner. All of this is a sure sign that something is working.
If there is anyone reading this that cares about Manchester United, join the campaign. If you support any other club, contact MUST immediately to find out about what you can do at your club.
I have said it before and I will say it again. There is no global force more powerful than football to bring about societal change.