Manchester United and the Independent Manchester United Supporters’ Association (IMUSA) clashed this week over ongoing green and gold protests. Fans’ groups have long accused CES security of match-day bullying tactics, with now IMUSA now claiming the firm refused fans entry to a reserves match at Old Trafford this week.
United’s second string played Aston Villa at Old Trafford in the reserve league play-off on Monday night, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s young reds winning out on penalties following a 3-3 draw in 90 minutes.
IMUSA has accused CES staff of refusing some supporters entry to the match, which attracted a crowd of around 4,000, because of involvement in the protests.
“Many fans were prevented from seeing their victory as large groups of CES stopped people in their two’s and three’s from gaining entry because of their supposed involvement in protests on other occasions,” claimed an IMUSA statement this week.
“We are also told that the local police intelligence officer joined in with this intimidation, giving people ‘verbal warnings’ for having engaged in legitimate peaceful protests at other matches.
“This same officer told whoever cared to listen that ‘he didn’t need a reason’ when asked why he was evicting a small number of young teenagers from the ground.”
IMUSA has previously accused the club of ejecting supporters from Old Trafford for wearing green and gold scarfs or bringing anti-Glazer protest banners to Old Trafford on match-days.
The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) backed the claim, saying that supporters who had previously taken part in peaceful
protests against the Glazers ownership were refused entry to the reserves game agai
“Supporters were also ejected from the stadium after being identified from video and photographic footage of previous protests,” MUST claimed on its website today.
“We understand that photographs of about 20 individuals were circulated to security personnel with orders to intercept them and deny them entry.”
CES previously fired a staff member, who had worked match-days at Old Trafford for more than 18 years, for returning a confiscated ‘Love United Hate Glazer’ banner to supporters and a member of the catering staff lost his job for wearing a green and gold scarf.
United denied restricting protests today, claiming that discussions between IMUSA and the club had resulted in an agreement about how banners could be used on match-days at Old Trafford.
“As a result of meetings between the club and IMUSA, banners are allowed at Old Trafford that conform to our regulations,” a faceless United spokesman told newspapers today.
“Fans are free to protest providing it is in a peaceful way.”
The club’s chief executive officer, David Gill, reiterated the club’s stance by claiming that nobody at the club will stop the protest movement, which has grown hugely since the Glazer family released its bond prospectus in January.
With barely a red scarf in sight on match-days, Gill’s is a position of practicality, with even CES’ notorious staff unable to eject 75,000 Old Trafford spectators. Indeed, IMUSA claims that 99 per cent of supporters now back a change in ownership at the club, with a Red Knights bid for the club expected in June.
“If your question is ‘would I prefer all red and white instead of gold and green when you have a full stadium and you are playing host to famous opposition’, of course I would,” Gill told Rollin’ Reds magazine.
“If the question is ‘would I prefer not to look out of my office and see the scarves they are selling on the street’, of course I’d prefer that. But as Alex has said, people have a right to protest.”
Gill, no doubt be relieved that the rather less famous Stoke City visit Old Trafford for the season’s final game on Sunday, will face a sea of anti-Glazer placards planned by MUST for the match.
In the meantime, with season ticket renewal forms due at the club by 13 June, Gill continues to insist that Sir Alex Ferguson has money available to spend in the transfer market this summer.
He’s right – but only if you count United’s £75 million bank overdraft facility.
Whether supporters who disagree with the ceo are allowed back into Old Trafford to see the fabled new signings is another matter altogether.