When club turns on fans what does support mean?



The relationship between club and supporters is a nuanced one. In recent years many clubs, save for those actually owned by the fans, have sought to change that relationship. No longer one of homogeneity – fans turned up, paid at the gate and the team performed – to one that emphasises commercialism. In short, from fandom to custom. Indeed, since the Glazer takeover at Old Trafford the American family has not only raised prices by close to 50 per cent but revelled in the fact, boasting of its ability to do so in last January’s bond document.

Support is, of course, both ephemeral in nature and what economists call price-inelastic. That is, while the casual supporter – the 300 million ‘fans’ David Gill so often boasts of – will come and go with good times and bad, regulars will accept increasingly high prices before removing their custom. The Glazer family has traded on it for more than five years.

Yet, when Thomas McKenna last summer allegedly leaked details of companies whom purchase executive facilities at Old Trafford, amid one of the most aggressive marketing campaigns ever undertaken by the club, he retained the support of many fans. After all, dismayed by the Glazers debt-fuelled ownership of United, disenfranchised through price rises and arrogantly dismissed by the club’s management, fans were rightly angry.

Today, the club filed long-expected papers in the high court, suing McKenna for “losses and damages” that the club claims was brought about by the Tameside resident. The now defunct website wewantglazerout.com published a list of more than 400 customers, mostly local businesses, alongside a press release claiming the leak came “with the assistance of senior employees of MUFC who oppose the Glazer family’s asset stripping of our club.”

United has previously denied both that a senior executive could have helped McKenna or indeed that the action had any effect on the bottom line. Yet today the club followed Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s precedent and is taking a United supporter to court. The Glazers’ NFL club sued supporters locked into lengthy season ticket bonds. Hardly surprising given Malcolm Glazer’s predilection for litigation with his own family.

“The defendant’s express purpose in publishing the list was to embarrass and exert pressure and to incite others to exert pressure upon the clients,” the papers said.

“The theft of data led to some of the companies named on the list having their property attacked and suffering significant personal distress. The club has a duty to demonstrate to all our fans that we will not tolerate that and will take action against the perpetrators. We take data security very seriously. Doing nothing was not an option.”

Yet, no evidence has ever been filed that supports these claims and while Greater Manchester Police last August claimed to have arrested “a 43-year-old man from Tameside … on suspicion of an offense under the computer misuse act” no charges were ever filed. McKenna, under any definition, is innocent of a crime.

Why then, with no material losses, no evidence of criminality and no mole uncovered within the club, has United chosen to take legal action? After all, it will be almost impossible to place a value on the club’s supposed losses that were once strenuously denied by Gill. It is a decision that “smells horribly of action being taken out of spite” concludes blogger Andersred.

Legal details aside, there is a question of whether fans can ever have the same relationship with a club that turns on one of them. What is it that fans actually support – the club? The team? Players, manager, or simply a concept? Some will brush off the club’s latest assault on supporters, just as too many fans have ignored David Gill’s regular insult of their collective intelligence. That Sir Alex Ferguson once told a fan to “fuck off and support Chelsea” is now largely forgotten.

Indeed, some United fans will support the club’s action against McKenna too. After all, those apologists for the Glazer family often react as if criticism of the regime’s business model is an attack on ‘their’ team. Partisanship, it seems, has few boundaries.

Others will view McKenna’s actions as this of a martyr; not dissimilar, perhaps, from Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. If knowledge is power then control of that information has the power to cause considerable embarrassment and change.

In court United must prove not only did McKenna knowingly act with the malice apportioned to him but that the damages done are monetiseable; that businesses failed to renew their executive facilities not because of the economic climate, nor the Green and Gold campaign, but because of intimidation brought about as a direct of the fan’s actions.

Victory will bring little of value to United, except retribution for the embarrassment caused. A marker perhaps; a show of power. It is little more than the actions of a bully. Then again, the club has been arrogantly doing that for years.

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  • captainhormone

    i’d donate some monies to his legal costs if this can be arranged…its a fucking farce……

    problem is we will see more and more of this types of bollocks…i feel it is happening in order to give the glazers an excuse to sell up sooner rather than later….gives them more credibility when their “we have no intention of selling” stance is shattered, as the wholesale attacks on the clubs from its own fans are devaluing the product/company/club etc etc yadda yadda yadda

    Alienation is the key here in my opinion, the more the Glazers continue to alienate themselves the easier it will be to sell for a price they want, and the next buyer who comes charging in will do so on a wave of euphoric bullshit that means all the smallprint/caveats and T & c’s will be ignored as all the fans will lap up the new savior with open arms. Possibly meaning the club get a worse owner with no massive (for the citeh fans that one) financial clout and the glazers get a price which makes them piss themselves with laughter as they sail off into the sunset…. laughing at us all.

    Asset stripping, huge debt, shit players, shit treatment of fans, and a big fuck off profit that destabilizes the club for many years

    Thanks Malc you ginger haired cunt

  • kramer

    he sounds like a genius, i wish i was a glazer

  • Victor

    You know it could be worse. If an Arab ever bought United, I’m off. I’m not supporting blood money.

    I actually think that Fergie has been turning on the fans for years by kicking out fan favourites (Keane, Stam, Forlan, Ruud etc.) AND ESPECIALLY BECKHAM.

    And looking at the current United team, I don’t see any characters that I idolize. I don’t even find the football attractive like it used to be. Who’s to blame?

  • SKW

    There is something to be said for the above, although I think Keane, Stam and Becks were offloaded at the right time. Forlan? Ruud? Blunders…

    But United’s overall football is pretty boring these days, as Ed wrote about recently. I used to know we’d always score. Now if we fall behind, I fear the worst. I’ve missed more matches this season because of work, but I mind less. The football’s just not exciting stuff. I can take it or leave it.

  • http://www.visual-intrusion.com Robbo

    Lets face it the days of your club being a part of the community doing things for the fans etc are long gone and football for better or worse is now a business, these people dont think with there hearts as a fan does they think with there heads and no doubt take a dim view of this and will want to know who gave him the information.

    Whilst we can applaud the stance that he took, he has published Private and confidentional information which more than likely neither United or there Partners/Directors Box users wanted published and according to Andersred the document in question was a spreadsheet here is the link to the post from Andersred http://www.redcafe.net/f6/man-united-sue-anti-glazer-protester-324366/index3.html#post9477751

    Should the guy be taken to the cleaners and be sued or worse ? no he shouldn’t but it will more than likely happen to make an example of him or find out who gave him the spreadsheet.

    To answer Eds question “When club turns on fans what does support mean?” due to Football clubs being businesses they know that there are enough people out there who will pay and as such no longer need to rely on the grass root fan.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    The thing is… what can be done about it?
    Seriously… it’s all well and good sitting behind our computers, wringing our hands, and typing into the ether about how shitty it all is… but the bottom line is… nothing gets done about it… there is no properly organised, and effective opposition to ANYTHING that the Glazers do… so… they’ll continue to stick two fingers up to the fans, continue to charge whatever they think the fan base will support and simply do what they want.
    The Glazers have seen it all before… they’ve already been through all this with the Buccs… and they know that sport is not life or death… they know that people will piss and moan, but ultimately it’s not THAT important to most fans to do anything more than have a whinge… and then get on with their lives.
    We are fucked!
    But it doesn’t help that there are fans like Dannii… that actually seem to appreciate and admire the business accumen of cunts like the Glazers… I’m not having a go at Dannii as a FAN, but when it comes to debates on the Glazer ownership, he often fights their corner…
    I just can’t see any justification for supporting anything relating to the Glazer ownership… NOTHING… and it’s not enough to say, that … “it could be worse under different owners”… it could be… or it could be so much better… we’ll never know, unless it happens… but what we DO know is that it’s fuckin awful under the Glazers.
    We may, still be top of the league… but that is in SPITE of the Glazers, not because of them… and everything about the Glazers is galling… it’s like a perpetual dark cloud that reeks, of greed and lies now hangs over the club… it really does feel like the club is ill… sick and slowly rotting.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  • sidney

    There are people on the Caf saying that the fella deserves to get sued FFS

    Absolute bastards

    I just hope it turns into a PR disster, and that the people in question win the court case

  • RickBrad

    As I understand it,there will be genuine problems with proving loss caused by the publication, the causal link would be difficult to substantiate. However, as a civil action the burden of proof is only ‘on the balance of probabilities’ rather than the criminal burden of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. One may be unsuccessful in proving criminal culpability whilst successful securing damages from the same evidence in a civil court. Sadly, there is always a chance in a case such as this one that the highly paid litigators paid by united will be successful.

    LUHG

  • eddieTheRed

    I can’t see this legal action being successful provided the judge is fair; AndersRed says that the spreadsheet McKenna published included membership numbers which indicates it probably was lifted from the club and not simply the result of a piece of home research.

    However, any loss or expense to United and/or it’s customers due to the data coming into the public domain is not neccessarily down to the person who publishes it (i.ie. McKenna). They could get him on the Data Protection Act but I’m not sure if this would be a Civil or a Criminal charge.

    The club is probably doing this to deter others from trying to steal it’s data but I think this will cost them money since I can’t see them being awarded any compensation.

  • captainhormone

    lol….I tried to approach united numerous times when i was selling IT security software, to offer products that prevented this type of leak happening…loads of times, left messages etc…they never took/returned my call…it s a cost effective solution that could have saved Millions…..in fact UTD have McAfee as their AntiVirus so the upgrade cost would have only been a few grand based on their nodage………lol……it’s cost them big time..

    Sunderland FC did listen and they are protected from this type of shit leaking

    in theory it’s the clubs fault for not having suitable protection in place……if someone gives you data, it’s not your fault if you use it……the bloke didn’t steal it he was given it’s from within….lol….the software on offer would have prevented this, and highlighted where the data was sourced from….so the tight fisted cunts have dug their own hole here

    • vlad

      McAfee is shite, Kaspersky rules.

  • herbie simms

    The football has become boring because Fergie has been there too long, he has run out of ideas. But the team has rode its luck and remain on course for the title.

  • bman

    I’m not saying he deserves to get sued, but it was a fucking stupid thing to do. It’s one thing to publish private documents if it exposes anti-social or illegal behaviour, like the Glazers were dumping toxic waste or something, then I think you’d have some legal protection.

  • Geno

    This is an absolute cunt act by the Glazers and by Gill (Ian Watmore: “I have a lot of time for David Gill…”) but it has a certain logic.

    I was thinking about why Gill would sign off on sueing a bloke whose total assets would be worth less than MUFC’s legal costs if this case went all the way (it won’t, by the way). Even MUFC’s lawyers must have told them that (a) they cannot reliably quantify the damages that MUFC might be awarded in court, and (b) Mr McKenna has no money anyway.

    I suspect Gill is proceeding with this because he knows Mr McKenna will be desperate to settle out of court, rather than lose his house and other assets and be driven to bankruptcy in defending this. I am expecting that MUFC will insist that they will not settle unless Mr McKenna discloses who he got the spreadsheet from. If he got it from an MUFC employee, that poor bastard is history. If he got it from someone unconnected with the club, I would expect MUFC will then sue that poor bugger, and will keep going up the chain until they figure out whether they were just hacked or whether an MUFC employee was involved.

    I don’t really think the Glazers are trying to send a mesaage to the fans – they don’t give a fuck about us one way or the other as long as we keep buying tickets and replica shirts. I don’t even think they give a shit about Mr McKenna – they’ll try and squeeze some money out of him in the settlement agreement so that he never forgets this as long as he lives, but it will cost them more to sue than they get from him in the end. I think this is really directed at MUFC employees – don’t fuck with the boss.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/opinion/columnists/simon-mullock/Glazers-are-taking-Manchester-United-fan-Thomas-McKenna-to-court-but-they-re-guilty-of-running-down-the-club-s-playing-staff-Simon-Mullock-column-article716986.html

    I know it’s just the mirror, but the word is spreading… hopefully, eventually, one day it will spread to a paper that Ferige reads…

    “You just don’t get fantasy football at Old Trafford any more.”

    Too bloody right, you don’t.

  • herbie simms

    When you look at it, the Glazers have no other choice but to put up the money so we can strengthen the team. The worse thing they don’t need is for the club to slip out of the top four. Look at Owen Hardgreaves, he was all set to return for the West Ham game next week, now he has dislocated his shoulder in training, torn the ligaments and will never play for United again. If the Glazers are not gone by the summer, fans need not buy any home game tickets, just stay away because these yanks are bringing shame to the great United name. We are the true dedicated fans, I take great pleasure in reading your comments, even if at times we don’t all agree, but United we stand.

    • Victor

      So long Owen. I’ll always remember that freekick against Arsenal.

  • captain-fletcher

    Wonder what Uncle Malcs up to these days. Haven’t heard about him since his strokes. Hopefully, he’s become a cabbage, shitting and pissing himself.
    Seriously though, this is the final straw for me. I will not be renewing next year. All the shit the Glazers have put us through has mounted up and now it stinks too much. I call on all of you not to renew next year.
    Old Trafford has become soulless anyway. Since the boycott last year, the place is full of deluded day trippers with their megastore carrier bags. Whenever anybody tries to sing, they are stared at like some kind of antisocial moron. There’s no passion, no life. Well the Glazers can take my seat and shove it up their arse. And don’t get me started on the automatic home cup ticket scheme…….

  • kramer

    we’re from asia

  • captain-fletcher

    In that case, and I presume you don’t go to old Trafford anyway, don’t buy any official merchandise. Don’t even think about buying an official shirt. Manchester United is now a business, with any money made going directly to the owners. If that’s how the glazers want it then that’s fine. We just won’t do any business with them anymore.

  • captainhormone

    kramer said:
    we’re from asia

    Should get some pretty good knock offs then…thats even better

  • http://www.visual-intrusion.com Robbo

    captain-fletcher said:
    In that case, and I presume you don’t go to old Trafford anyway, don’t buy any official merchandise. Don’t even think about buying an official shirt. Manchester United is now a business, with any money made going directly to the owners. If that’s how the glazers want it then that’s fine. We just won’t do any business with them anymore.

    FFs United has long been a business and the only way to get it back to what it was would be for all fans to boycott every game but that wont happen so end of story …..

  • captain-fletcher

    Well Mr Robbo, I won’t be giving any money to the business. Will you?

  • captainhormone

    Blog Commenter said:
    McAfee is shite, Kaspersky rules.

    Kaspersky is shite too tbf……

    Sophos are a decent company to deal with

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Comodo, and AVG… all anyone needs. And they’re free.

    In the not too distant future… all computing will done in the “cloud”… and piracy will be a thing of the past… then the software companies will have us well and truly by the bollocks… and will squeeze the fuck out of the consumer…

    We are doooooooooooooomed!

  • Ted

    Blog Commenter said:
    You know it could be worse. If an Arab ever bought United, I’m off. I’m not supporting blood money.

    I actually think that Fergie has been turning on the fans for years by kicking out fan favourites (Keane, Stam, Forlan, Ruud etc.) AND ESPECIALLY BECKHAM.

    And looking at the current United team, I don’t see any characters that I idolize. I don’t even find the football attractive like it used to be. Who’s to blame?

    Course he has. Does’nt give a fuck about all the complaints about fans being told to sit down and stop chanting and singing a showing good support for the club. But on certain euro nights and against the dippers and the likes, he goes public asking for our support to be voiciferous? He’s took the piss for fuckin years, and after witnessing him tell us to “fuck off and watch chelsea” at Budapest airport. Well, that twat shit it with us from that very day. Double standards classless cunt.

    Thats the reason other fans sing…”Fergies right, the fans are shite!”

    The sooner he leaves the better. And he can take that arse licker Gill with him, gobshites the pair of’em.

  • captainhormone

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Comodo, and AVG… all anyone needs. And they’re free.

    In the not too distant future… all computing will done in the “cloud”… and piracy will be a thing of the past… then the software companies will have us well and truly by the bollocks… and will squeeze the fuck out of the consumer…

    We are doooooooooooooomed!

    AvG is the old Kaspersky engine Alf, kaspersky sold it off years ago…most modern security software is based on the principles of a product called Prevx basically analysing real time threats on the fly…..i was using that 7/8 years ago…..re cloud stuff…bah…it’s been going on for donkies years, there will always be a way around things

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Cap… I’ve only been into computers for about 10/12 years… not that long I know… but in that time, I’ve only had a virus twice… and they were both my fault for opening summat I shouldn’t have. AVG is fine, as long as you keep it updated.

    And as for “Cloud”… give it a bit more time… hardcore hackers will get around it, but the rest of us will be slaves to it… there won’t be an operating system, or packaged software… just “apps”… and it will be like using a mobile phone… there will be different tarrifs and different contract options… but basically, everything you want to do will cost you…

    “Count Zero”… the time is near.

  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/danniitronix/ danniitronix

    You two should get married – ffs wanking over IT related bollocks, just wait until Robbo and Spike catch this – 4 way back shaft listening to Bronski Beat with a Viennes Whirl for afters.

    So do I get an Ipad or wait for a Playbook? Or just get a netbook thing?

  • http://www.visual-intrusion.com Robbo

    captain-fletcher said:
    Well Mr Robbo, I won’t be giving any money to the business. Will you?

    Last time I was at the Megastore was around 98, living in Germany its a bit hard to jump on the bus and go round there.

  • http://www.visual-intrusion.com Robbo

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Cap… I’ve only been into computers for about 10/12 years… not that long I know… but in that time, I’ve only had a virus twice… and they were both my fault for opening summat I shouldn’t have. AVG is fine, as long as you keep it updated.

    And as for “Cloud”… give it a bit more time… hardcore hackers will get around it, but the rest of us will be slaves to it… there won’t be an operating system, or packaged software… just “apps”… and it will be like using a mobile phone… there will be different tarrifs and different contract options… but basically, everything you want to do will cost you…

    “Count Zero”… the time is near.

    Alf Cloud Computing will come in to its own when Internet speeds are fast enough so that you dont notice a difference when accessing files but until then it will move more and more in to our lives but without the speed its pointless.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    “its pointless.”

    Just like your post.

  • captain-fletcher

    Cloud system this. Avrgn comodo hacker 98. What a fucking joke! United rant used to be the epitome of chaos ‘I fucking hit him hard, take that you cunt!’. Now it’s a place for nerds to meet to share their software fantasies. Come on! Liven this place up a bit!!!!

  • http://www.visual-intrusion.com Robbo

    captain-fletcher said:
    Cloud system this. Avrgn comodo hacker 98. What a fucking joke! United rant used to be the epitome of chaos ‘I fucking hit him hard, take that you cunt!’. Now it’s a place for nerds to meet to share their software fantasies. Come on! Liven this place up a bit!!!!

    Who let this cunt in here the R.O.M reading spastic cunt that he is, how about pulling your finger from your arse making sure that dont fucking orgasm in the process and do something as well.

    Cunt.

  • http://www.visual-intrusion.com Robbo

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    “its pointless.”

    Just like your post.

    Then again most of what I post in your eyes is pointless isn’t it Ce La Vie as they say.

  • captain-fletcher

    Fuck off robbo. You’re a fucking joke. I’m Just telling it like it is. Have I touched a nerve? xxx

  • http://www.AlfonsoBedoya.ep Alfonso Bedoya

    Robbo. I didn’t realise you were a computer nerd! Haha. That explains everything : )

  • http://www.visual-intrusion.com Robbo

    captain-fletcher said:
    Fuck off robbo. You’re a fucking joke. I’m Just telling it like it is. Have I touched a nerve? xxx

    No but at least your now making an effort so 9 out of 10 for that but a little more violence and sexism would help.

    I dont like these xxx they worry me

  • http://www.visual-intrusion.com Robbo

    Blog Commenter said:
    Robbo. I didn’t realise you were a computer nerd! Haha. That explains everything : )

    Fat ……….. Check
    Glasses ……. Check
    Balding ……. Check
    Geeky ……… Maybe

    Shit Alf´s found me out

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Blog Commenter said:
    Robbo. I didn’t realise you were a computer nerd! Haha. That explains everything : )

    This is starting to piss me off…

    Come on Ed.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/forum/profile/admin Ed

      Alfonso – not sure what you want me to do?!

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Ed said:
    Alfonso – not sure what you want me to do?!

    Don’t they have to register or summat?

    So… some fuckhead is using my name to post… and I’ve just got to accept it?

    ffs…

  • captainhormone

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Don’t they have to register or summat?

    So… some fuckhead is using my name to post… and I’ve just got to accept it?

    ffs…

    ooh….take it all bitch

  • brianofnazareth

    Ed said:
    Alfonso – not sure what you want me to do?!

    Ed make this forum only available to those who register…

    Oh an can you Ban Ted? lol xx

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/forum/profile/admin Ed

      brian – it is only available to those who register. The forum pulls in comments from the blog though because I think that allows for a ‘more seamless’ service. i.e people can comment where they want and the debate doesn’t contain two separate forks. But if there’s a duplicate Alfonso I encourage any mods to simply delete the imposter!