I’ve always been fascinated by the difference between sports fans in here the colonies and abroad. Specifically, how football fans still feel they have some control over and say how their clubs and sport are run (and in Germany certainly does). While here we have a fairer mentality. Perhaps it is in the basic formation of leagues and teams that football has, while here it has always been from above, the leagues themselves decide where the teams go. It’s almost certainly more layered than that, but that’s probably the heart of it.
There was no better example than that of the abortive and disastrous trial of the Spring 2021 Super League. Fans, especially those in England, were immediately disgusted by the idea itself, literally took to the streets and the whole idea collapsed in. a day or two. Manchester United fans postponed a match against their biggest rival, Liverpool, just a couple of weeks later with protests and a pitch invasion, so much was their distaste for Glazer family ownership as well as the Super League was the icing on the cake. We’ll be back to them in a second.
Do you ever remember something like this on these shores? I take a lot to do with Blackhawks fans, but hey, families are the ones we complain about the most. While their participation has decreased this season in the wake of the cover-up of a manager who sexually assaulted Kyle Beach in 2010, that participation may have decreased simply because the team was an ass. Even after Rocky Wirtz berated reporters in the spring for having the audacity to ask what steps the team had taken to ensure that nothing like this would ever happen again, there have been no protests outside the United Center.
And we shouldn’t spot Hawks fans. You don’t see people storming FedEx Field or the commanders’ practical facility to oust Daniel Snyder, even though he has proven himself to be a candidate for the worst person in the world. Pirates have been a joke for most of Bob Nutting’s tyrannical reign, and for the most part they simply gave up. At least they talked the only way we know, not by going to games. Yet MLB has created a safety net for assholes like Nutting, where it doesn’t even matter. Tom Ricketts has pissed off the most historic World Series winner in baseball history, yet there are no pitchforks on Clark Street (being a Chicago sports fan is awesome). This list could go on and on.
There seems to be an acceptance that there isn’t much we can do, and even if we thought there was, the whole society has been beaten and controlled so hard by billionaires that there is no way to get them to worry. Fuck, at least in MLB and NFL it wouldn’t matter if we stopped showing up, given those teams’ other sources of income. That was our only weapon.
That’s a lesson from that Man United president Richard Arnold was trying to instill to some supporters at a pub near his home last week. You see, some United fans had planned to protest outside the home, in the general movement to clarify how much they hate the Glazers and especially how the team has been run for about 10 years now that it has seen them drop out of the European elite (whatever the their inclusion in the Super League). Arnold found out about it, went to the pub where they had gathered (obviously they had gathered at the pub) and interacted with them. In reality he was all quite an adult, a conversation more than a screaming encounter, even though Arnold asked not to be recorded and in the end he was and saw it spread all over social media.
It was the kind of meeting with a team manager that fans would kill for and never go outside of the most managed and staged settings. Arnold was outspoken about how botched United’s run was, not hiding from the fact that the club “burned a billion pounds” on players who mostly bullshit for the team. He let slip some details about the squad’s transfers this summer, notably Frenkie de Jong, but it was clear he was only in charge of telling his front office how much money there was to spend and not being involved in squad building himself. , a big deal under former President Ed Woodward.
But Arnold got the cat out of the bag and highlighted the difference between the attitude of the fans here and there. United fans over the past year or two have targeted a number of club sponsors, boycotting their products or scolding them on the trendy Gamergate internet, hoping to drive them away from the club and most importantly, their money away from the club, to financially collapse the entire operation to the point where the Glazers would be forced to sell. It’s kind of a fantasy, but you can at least see the bottom line. Arnaldo it defused them of that notion:
Arnold replied: “Really? You know what it was like in 2005. The owners were pressured not to buy the club and they bought the club anyway. If you want to think of them this way, they’re rock hard. “
The fan intervened: “It doesn’t matter, I understand.”
Arnold said, “‘It doesn’t matter’ is the wrong word, they’re not afraid of people.”
And this is the crucial point. The Glazers have enough money not to care what the fans think, even though the fans are the lifeblood of the club, presumably. And the fans may feel they can kick sponsors, but this is MANCHESTER UNITED. There will be more and more sponsors, which is precisely why the Glazers bought the team in 2005. Whether the Glazers are geniuses or arrogant idiots (most would tend to the latter), this is an operation that is fundamentally too much. big to fail, even though sir know they tried.
It’s still a sobering thing for fans in the UK and probably around the world, where clubs aren’t all that far from being extensions of the communities and cities they sprang from. He is totally unfair to Arnold, who is a true fan as well as directing the team, that he has to show the stones to talk to the fans while the Glazers are hiding somewhere in a Florida mansion when they are the problem. But that’s also the job Arnold took.
You can’t help but wonder what English football will lose when fans feel completely helpless against owners like the Glazers. It’s a feeling we’ve known all our lives and probably years, but that’s the difference in atmosphere and feeling between American sports and sports elsewhere, isn’t it? This is why we see European football in increasing numbers every year, or at least for one reason. To at least testify, if not feel part of, something that fans feel part of it. Not having just given it to us by a small group of super rich shit demons who would trample our tracheas for another $ 5 if given the chance.
Arnold certainly isn’t wrong and he’s just being honest. And there were only 12 or so fans in the pub. But that message got out and the Glazers might think the silence will be better than the protests they have been subjected to for a few years now. But apathy is worse than anger. On the other hand, the bet they made was that the passion that drives fans to organize protests and storm the stadium, a passion you won’t find here, would have kept United a cash cow. They can slander sponsors on websites, but they will never show up at Old Trafford. With the Premier League season opening in August, you can be sure there will be 65,000.
Maybe I’m not that advanced in understanding that their passion will be used against them. Even if it is United, it will be sad to see them and many more will come to accept him. But it will happen.