The Independent Manchester United Supporters Association (IMUSA) has called for fans to renew season tickets late – if at all – as the campaign to force the Glazer family out gathers momentum. United’s oldest supporters’ group has come closest to calling for a full boycott by urging season ticket holders to starve the Glazer family of cash.
IMUSA, which is separate from the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), argues that matchday tickets are readily available, with the sole benefit of a season ticket that “you get to sit in the same seat each week.”
“We all know that hundreds of millions are going out of the club in interest payments,” added an IMUSA statement this week
“What has recently also become apparent is the Glazers’ intention to take upwards of £400 million out of the club for themselves.
“We can stop them doing this but only if we starve them of cash, so that what money there is has to be spent on Manchester United Football Club, not funding the lifestyles of its unwelcome owners.”
The group’s three-point plan urges season ticket holders not to renew and refrain from purchasing anything that will add to the Glazer family’s profit, including on matchdays.
IMUSA’s call is in stark contrast to MUST, which has successfully lobbied the political parties to include football club ownership on the election agenda but made no clear stance on a boycott.
Indeed, the groups have maintained a – friendly – split although it has never been clear why separate supporter group agendas are necessary. Or even productive.
While IMUSA campaigns on fans’ issues such as prices, access to tickets and a long-running safe standing campaign, MUST focuses tightly in on the ownership issue.
IMUSA, founded in 1995, grew from supporters’ frustrations with the matchday experience, while MUST is the evolution of Shareholders United Against Murdoch – the group that successfully lobbied against BSkyB’s bid for the club in 1998.
Sadly, the strength of a single voice supporters’ voice has as yet not been manifested and the split offers only indecision over the issue of supporter ownership. Nobody wants the Glazers but there’s little agreement on how to rid the club of its leech.
IMUSA’s call to not renew is admirable though and behind the scenes it is hopeful that the group is working with MUST and the Red Knights to build a coherent strategy.
Hopeful but somehow doubtful as factionalism and personal agendas dominate.
There’s the rub. While the Glazer family’s overwhelming drain on club resources over the next seven years is without doubt, fans groups and potential bidders alike show no consistency of thought in how to deal with the problem.
Perhaps Smiley’s Red Issue editorial this month has something to it.
“We’ve really shot our bolt now with this green and gold thing haven’t we?” ponders the somewhat defeatist commentator.
“Day-trippers roaming in and out of the Megastore laden with plastic bags and a protest scarf around their neck isn’t really doing any favours.
“MUST will no doubt still be wasting their money on meaningless posters while actually doing nothing of any use while… renewals will be posted back to the Old Trafford ticket office without a second thought.”
While Smiley’s column is symptomatic of RI’s general disdain for MUST, it also represents the split between different factions. And if supporters can’t agree on how to rid the club of the Glazers what hope is there?
“Part those hairy cheeks and grimace,” concludes Smiley.
“It’s quite obvious to anyone who isn’t on the current owners’ payroll that the club’s going to spend 2010/11 getting royally f*cked by the Glazers.”