Tag Green and Gold

Tag Green and Gold

Sacked for being anti-Glazer II

March 15, 2010 Tags: Shorts 1 comment

Last month Rant reported that Manchester United sacked an employee of 19 years for returning a confiscated ‘Love United Hate Glazer’ banner to fans. Now, reports The Student Direct Mancunian newspaper, the club has dismissed student Jerry Vyse for wearing a green and gold scarf while on duty at Old Trafford last Wednesday.

Vyse, who worked at one of Old Trafford’s many food and drink kiosks, bought the £5 scarf prior to United’s 4-0 victory over AC Milan in the Champions League last Wednesday.

“I bought the scarf for five pounds off one of the countless sellers stocking them around the outside of the stadium. I told him I would be wearing it to work at Old Trafford for my shift selling pies and Bovril for that evening’s game against AC Milan,” Vyse told the paper.

“He wished me the best of luck, but warned me that some staff were sacked on the spot for doing that.

“I put it on at half-time as the floods of people poured out to stock themselves up with fluids and solids. The fans started to cheer in solidarity.

“Hearing the commotion, the supervisor came round and ordered me to remove it. This was met with jeers from the United supporters, most of whom had the scarf on themselves.”

“When I refused, the supporters cheered, before shouting comments at the supervisor to let me get on with my job because the scarf does not effect my ability to work a till. He was then booed when he put the queue on hold to enter the kiosk and request I leave with him because my scarf was ‘anti-Glazer’.

“I turned to the supervisor and asked him why I could not continue doing my job. He said it was not because I was wearing a scarf, because if it had been a different colour he would not have minded.

“MUFC will no doubt state that the decision was based on uniform policy – what he told me surely refutes that. He said it was because it was ‘anti-Glazer’. Does it not sniff a little bit like a dictatorship if not even the smallest of dissents can be made about an incredibly rich man who has more or less taken over the club?”

The club has also banned fans from wearing green and gold colours on MUTV and instilled a strict ‘no talk’ policy among the playing squad when it comes to ownership.

There seems little sense of irony at United. Aside from green and gold being the original colours of Newton Heath from 1878 – 1886, the club was happy to market a green and gold third strip from 1992 – 1994.

Report: Becks would buy into United

March 12, 2010 Tags: , , Shorts 1 comment

David Beckham will buy into Manchester United – just not yet – according to reports today. Beckham, who wore a green and gold scarf at Old Trafford on Wednesday in a huge boost to the anti-Glazer movement, will focus on finishing his playing career with LA Galaxy before moving into club ownership and not coaching.

“Sources close to Beckham have revealed that while the former England captain is sympathetic to the fans’ cause, which he demonstrated when picking up a green and gold scarf after the Champions League tie at Old Trafford , he will not become a figurehead for the Red Knights crusade to usurp the Glazers,” claims the ESPN Soccernet report today.

“Beckham has no plans to return to England after the World Cup and believes he can continue playing at the highest level for some time yet. However, once he finishes playing, he has his mind set on football club ownership, rather than management or coaching.

“In addition to ownership of an American club, Beckham would look favourably on buying into Manchester United, the club he supported as a boy, and for which he retains an unflinching affection.”

Although the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) used the iconic image of Beckham with a green and gold scarf in an email marketing campaign on Thursday, ceo Duncan Drasdo admitted that Beckham’s public involvement in the movement is highly unlikely while he is still playing professionally.

Beckham’s iconic moment as Nomura crystallise bid

March 11, 2010 Tags: , , , Opinion 1 comment

Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) ceo Duncan Drasdo says that the pressure is now on the Glazer family after an emotional night at Old Trafford culminated in David Beckham donning the colours of protest . It comes as the Red Knights appointed Nomura bank to draw together disparate factions and crystallise a bid for the club.

Drasdo, who has led membership of MUST past 125,000, says that Nomura’s appointment will bring together groups, including the Red Knights and the fans, to formalise an attempted takeover in the coming weeks.

“I think the important thing is that the Glazers are business people and they see it as a business. We see it as a football club,” said Drasdo, who along with the Red Knights will need to find more than £1 billion to fund a bid.

“There’s huge pressure on them [the Glazers] now, obviously emotionally but also in terms of revenues.”

Commenting on Nomura’s appointment as bid advisors, Drasdo said that the Japanese investment bank will play an important role. The Nomura team, led by Guy Dawson the United board advisor prior to the Glazers’ 2005 takeover, will bring together more than 60 high net worth individuals who have reportedly pledge money towards the bid.

“It [Nomura’s appointment] is hugely significant because it’ll start to crystallise the offer,” added Drasdo.

“We’ve seen a lot of interest from the so-called Red Knights and Nomura’s job is to organise it. It’s really important to understand that it’s not just about the Red Knights, the supporters are really important.

“128,000 of them have signed up and its about the Red Knights giving the fans opportunity to own part of the club. The fans have to grasp that opportunity and become involved.”

David Beckham

Green and gold, David Beckham dons protest scarf

As United cantered past AC Milan and into the Champions League quarter-finals last night, perhaps the most significant moment came when Beckham picked up the green and gold scarf as he left the pitch. The former Untied winger, whose populist touch remains undiluted even if his performances have tailed off with age, left the anti-Glazer campaign with an image that will spread globally.

Although Beckham later said that the club’s ownership was “nothing to do with him” there is little doubt about the player’s moment of solidarity with United supporters.

“I thought it was fantastic and an iconic moment,” Drasdo said of Beckham’s gesture.

“When he picked up the scarf a huge roar went up and there was a wave of excitement going around the place.

“Green and gold is having a really big impact – on the media, on sponsors and on the fans. It’s a fantastic idea and it’s really taken off.”

In an emotional night for the player, who left United for Real Madrid in 2003, Beckham played 27 minutes and forced a save from Edwin van der Sar in the home net after a stinging volley.

With a tear in the eye Beckham entered the field to huge cheers. He left it a bigger hero than ever.

Fergie: no protest tonight

March 10, 2010 Tags: , Shorts 1 comment

Sir Alex Ferguson says that no pre-match protest will take place before tonight’s Champions League second leg tie with AC Milan because the game is too important. The mooted protest, in which fans will stay away from their seats for 10 minutes after kick-off, has not been endorsed by the Manchester United Supporters’ Association (MUST).

“The fans won’t do that, it is too important a game,” said Ferguson of the protest, which was first suggested at a fans meeting in Stretford two months ago.

“Old Trafford will be rocking and I am sure whether they are wearing the traditional red and white or the protest green and gold scarves the supporters will be united and speaking with one voice to get us safely through.”

Ferguson has walked a fine line between demanding fans support the team without being critical of the growing protest movement that has seen more than 125,000 supporters join MUST.

Earlier this week Ferguson dismissed rumours that he is backing the Red Knights’ bid to buy the club despite being close friends with Jim O’Neil.

Glazers field first shot fired across bows

March 1, 2010 Tags: , , , , Opinion 23 comments

Negotiation 101. Don’t admit your possession is for sale unless you are absolutely happy for the price to plummet. It’s a refrain familiar to many a football club in the player transfer market. Today Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family, warded off the first shot in a drawn out war for moral and legal ownership of the club.

Reports today suggest that a group of wealthy investors, known colloquially as the Red Knights, met at leading law firm Freshfields’ London office on Tuesday to flesh out a possible bid for the club.

Those involved in the Red Knights group include Goldman Sachs’ Jim O’Neill and Freshfields’ Mark Rawlinson, while international hedge fund trader Paul Marshall of Marshall Wace and Bet Fred founder Fred Done have also been linked to the group in the past.

In recent weeks financier Keith Harris, the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) and wealthy fans have formulated plans to make a bid for the club, bought by the Glazer family in a highly leveraged £790 million deal during summer 2005. Urgency to mount a bid, fueled by growing anger at the Glazer family’s ownership of the club, has accelerated since details of United’s finances became transparent as the club sought to market a £500 million bond issue in January.

However, the Glazer family has consistently claimed that it is a “long-term” investor in United. It is a message repeated today in a terse one-line response from a family spokesperson: “Our position is that Manchester United is not for sale.” The oft-repeated refrain that almost certainly means the club is available – for a price.

In the parlance of the day everything has its price, despite denials to the contrary. Debt-laden United, which owes £716.5 million to financial institutions and bond holders, will haemorrhage more than £565 million in interest, fees and dividends over the next seven years according to the Glazer family’s own figures.

While the Red Knights’ desire to buy out the Glazers is genuine, any bid will come at a very heavy price. Probably more than £1.2 billion, including outstanding club debt of £509 million. The Glazer family will also use club funds to reduce the £200 million payment-in-kind loans under their name.

Since the 2005 takeover United’s turnover has increased considerably, driven by a new Premier League deal with Sky, huge rises in matchday ticket prices and increased commercial revenue from partners such as new principle shirt sponsor Aon. As such, the multiplier required to mount a successful bid that includes a premium for the current owners and covers club debt is much higher than the 2005 £790 million buyout price.

In a move not lacking in irony, the group has also lined up Finsbury to advise on public relations matters, according to a report in The Times today. The firm also advised the club in 2005, and its London office was subjected to repeated pranks by angry United supporters including a denial of service attack on the company’s website.

The Red Knights is not only potentially wealthy but includes some internationally recognised minds of true clout. Seymour Pearce-based Harris is an outspoken critic of the Glazer regime, adding in recent weeks that the family is placing the club in danger, while accelerating arrangements to bring the Red Knights closer.

Meanwhile, Marshall recently called for a fan ownership model at the club, similar to those employed in Europe’s leading clubs such as Barcelona.

But perhaps the most vociferous of the Red Knights is O’Neil. It is not without pertinence that Goldman Sachs’ head of global economic research is a leading figure in the anti-Glazer movement.

As thousands of terrace fans don the green and gold of Newton Heath, modern United will need each of the Red Knights as the long battle for control commences.

Evra – fans ‘not crazy’ for protest

March 1, 2010 Tags: , , , Shorts 4 comments

Manchester United’s Carling Cup winning captain Patrice Evra says that fans are ‘not crazy’ for the continuing the green and gold protest that saw thousands of scarves at Wembley yesterday. Fans’ favourite Evra, captain in Gary Neville’s absence, is one of the few United players to comment on the protest.

“They are the original colors of Manchester United and the fans wear them because they love this club,” Evra said.

“They have their reasons for doing it and we don’t think that they’re crazy. They’d like things to change.”

More than 30,000 United fans attended the match at Wembley, with many twirling green and gold scarves above their heads as directors Brian and Avram Glazer watched on.

In related news, the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) has enlisted social media agency Blue State Digital to increase the organisations’ membership. MUST has more than 50,000 members.

First fans, now Glazers turn on staff

February 10, 2010 Tags: , Shorts No comments

Manchester United dismissed Old Trafford steward Granville Boden, 53, after he tried to return a confiscated anti-Glazer banner to its owners, reports The Times today. The ‘Love United Hate Glazer’ banner, which was forcibly taken down by stewards and the supporters ejected, went up for the Premier League match against Burnley last month.

CES, the contractors employed by United on match days, fired Boden even though he has worked at Old Trafford for 19-years. Increasing anecdotal evidence is building of the roughhouse tactics deployed by United to silence the growing ‘green and gold’ revolution.

“There is a lot of internal conflict between the staff and I think that conflict is only going to grow as the protests against the Glazers gather more momentum,” Boden told The Times.

“There are a lot of staff at the club who are sympathetic to what the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) are trying to achieve. I don’t regret anything I did.”

Earlier this week Rant reported on fans evicted from executive areas for wearing green and gold scarves, while stewards harassed a Portsmouth radio reporter for the same reason on Saturday – live on air!

Meanwhile, the club posted misleading information on ManUtd.com, claiming that green and gold banners “may not be allowed” in the San Siro stadium for next week’s Champions League clash with AC Milan.

Did United mislead fans about ‘club colours’ in Milan?

February 9, 2010 Tags: , Shorts 3 comments

Manchester United may have deliberately mislead fans about prohibited flags at the San Siro stadium for the Champions League clash with AC Milan next Tuesday. In a statement the club claimed that Italian regulations require flags to be in United’s ‘club colours’ – a potential clampdown on the green and gold revolution.

The club has attempted to silence critics in recent weeks, with anecdotal evidence pointing to roughhouse tactics by stewards who have pulled down Old Trafford anti-Glazer banners and banned fans wearing green and gold from ‘box’ areas.

“United fans wishing to display banners or, in some cases, flags inside the San Siro on Tuesday 16 February must first have them approved by AC Milan,” claimed a statement on the club mouthpiece ManUtd.com yesterday .

“In line with Italian regulations, fans must supply a picture of the banner/flag and information about its size to the visiting club’s Security Operative Group. After examining all submissions, the committee will notify each applicant of its decision to allow or prohibit the item from entering the stadium.

“According to guidelines published on the AC Milan website, flags not in club colours may not be allowed into the San Siro, while two-stick flags or flags of excessive dimensions likely to obstruct other supporters’ views are definitely prohibited. AC Milan also prohibits drums, loudspeakers or “any other sound diffusion systems” into the San Siro,” concludes the statement.

But United’s statement is incongruous with the official Milan policy, which requires flags to be approved if they are not in official club or country colours but absolutely does not prohibit these items. In any case, the point may be moot given that green and gold has been a ‘club colour’ since 1878.

Milan will also aid supporters who wish to fix banners to the stadium and then remove them at the end of the match.

Request for flag approval must be submitted today by completing Form A and sending by fax to the number +39 02 99786365 or by e-mail to the address striscioni@acmilan.it.

Glazers turn on fans as call for boycott grows

February 8, 2010 Tags: , , Opinion 24 comments

On the 52nd anniversary of the Munich air crash Manchester United’s owners failed to turn up at Old Trafford, choosing instead to employ rough tactics on protesting supporters as the anti-Glazer revolution spreads. Not for the first time Stewards ripped banners from the Stretford End and supporters wearing the colours of protest were barred entry to executive areas.

The self-styled ‘Theatre of Dreams’ is rapidly becoming a sea of green and gold as the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) distributed 70,000 fliers and additional scarves before the Old Trafford tie with Portsmouth on Saturday.

With MUST membership now topping 45,000 the tipping point in this revolution has come. Not this time will supporters’ protests fade into apathy.

It’s not a fact that the club’s management has yet accepted with Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill attempting to head off the protests at the path by erroneously calling on fans to “support the club” in recent weeks. Gill would say that, his remuneration has increased by 60 per cent in two years to more than £1.8 million, while squeezing the fans for ever more in ticket prices.

Inside the stadium a chorus of “we want Glazer out” and “love United, hate Glazer” dominated for the duration, save the minute’s silence respectfully held prior to kick off. And at the Stretford End supporters unfurled another huge ‘Glazer Out, LUHG’ banner before stewards forcibly removed both the statement and protester.

Anecdotal evidence also points to fans being forced to remove green and gold scarves before entering ‘box’ areas and stewards bent on silencing Glazers’ critics in the stands.

“Predictably, once again a club steward was caught by the media telling a supporter to put down his Green and Gold club colours. But again the act backfired as Radio 5 Live’s presenter conveyed the act to tens of millions of fans listening around the world,” reports the excellent United blog, A Kick in the Grass.

It’s a shame then that the BBC gave a voice to Gill’s lies on its Football Focus programme last weekend, while overtly editing any of the green and gold protest out of its Match of the Day highlights on Saturday night.

But there is a growing feeling that the current wave of protests is merely the start of a war that leads to the Glazer family’s demise as club owners. After all, if the family is unwilling to face supporters in Manchester, then they surely will feel the financial pinch if plans for a widespread season ticket boycott come to fruition.

“It is only now, after the true state was laid bare in the prospectus to raise the £500m bond, that the fans have taken the veil from their eyes,” Andy Walsh, chairmen of red rebel club FC United of Manchester told the Daily Mail.

“We’ve had many people apologising to us. There is a plan to step up the campaign and hitting the Glazers in the pocket as the next phase.

“The green and gold campaign has focused people’s attention but there is an understanding it won’t work on its own. A boycott will hit the Glazers because their business plan relied on them cranking up ticket prices and extracting more cash from supporters.”

Boycott, of course, is an emotive subject; perhaps the greatest sacrifice a supporter can make. But with the financial pinch hitting home hard the club has already lost a net 65,000 season ticket holders in the past year. Further ticket rises are likely when the club announces prices for the 2010/2011 season in the coming weeks.

Even should the club “placate the fans” as one national newspapers suggested last week, there is a growing realisation that the only way supporters can force a change of ownership in the medium term is to undermine the Glazer family’s business model.