I’ve always been fascinated by the difference in base sports here colonies and abroad. Specifically, how football fans still feel they have some control over and say in how they run their clubs and their sport (and in They certainly do Germany). While here we have the mentality of just introducing it. Football is probably in the basic line-up of leagues and teams, while here always from top to bottom, the leagues themselves determine where the teams go. It’s almost certainly layered more than that, but that’s probably the gist of it.
There was no better example of this in the spring of 2021’s aborted and failed Premier League trial. Fans, especially those in England, quickly got fed up with the very idea, and actually took to the streets, and the whole idea fell apart in a day or two. Manchester United fans postponed a game against their biggest rival Liverpool after just two weeks of protests and a stadium invasion, so disgusted with the Glazer family’s property that the Premier League was a rotten cherry on top of it. We will get back to them shortly.
Have you ever remembered something like this on these beaches? I pick Blackhawks fans a lot, but it’s the families that we often overlook. While their attendance has declined this season following their cover-up from a coach who sexually assaulted Kyle Beach in 2010, that attendance could have gone down simply because the team was a donkey. Even after Rocky Verts reprimanded reporters in the spring for daring to question the steps the team had taken to ensure nothing like this happened again, there were no protests outside the United center.
And we shouldn’t single out Hawks fans. You don’t see people storming FedEx Field or a leaders training facility to take down Daniel Snyder, even if he proves to be a candidate for the worst person in the world. Pirates have been a joke for almost the entirety of Bob Notting’s autocratic rule, and they have mostly given up. At least they talked the only way we know how, by not going to the games. However, MLB has created a safety net for fuckers like Nutting where it doesn’t even matter. Tom Ricketts sprinted on the most historic World Series winners in baseball history, yet there’s no pitchfork on Clark Street (being a Chicago sports fan is awesome). This list goes on and on.
There seems to be an acceptance that there is not much we can do, and even if we thought there was, the entire community has been so battered and controlled by billionaires that there is no way we can get them to pay attention. Damn it, at least in the MLB and NFL, it wouldn’t really matter if we stopped showing up, given the other sources of income those teams have. This was our only weapon.
Which is the lesson that Man United president Richard Arnold was trying to instill To some of his supporters at a bar near his home last week. Y’see, some United fans had planned to protest outside his house, in the public movement to make clear how much they hated the Glazers and especially how the team had run for 10 years or so now causing them to withdraw from the European elite (whatever it might say their entry into the Premier League) . Arnold sensed this, and went to the pub they were meeting in (of course they were meeting at the pub) and interacted with them. It was all really adult, a conversation more than just a screaming match, although Arnold asked not to be taped and ended up watching it go viral all over social media.
It was a kind of sit-down with the CEO of the team that the fans here were killing for and never getting out of the most organized and organized place. Arnold has been upfront about the extent of the flop at United’s management, not hiding from the fact that the club “spent a billion pounds” on players who were often jack-and-shit for the team. He did leave out some details about team transfers this summer, notably Frenkie de Jong, but it was clear that he was only responsible for telling his front office how much he was spending and not getting involved in team building himself, a huge problem under former chief Ed Woodward.
But Arnold let the cat out of the bag, highlighting the difference between fans’ attitude here and there. United fans over the past year or two have targeted a group of sponsors of the club, either boycotting their products or defaming them online in a Gamergate-like manner, in the hopes of keeping them away from the club, and more importantly their money away from the club, so financially stingy the entire operation that Glazers would have to sell . It’s a bit of a fantasy, but you can at least see the final line. Arnold I deprived them of this idea:
Arnold replied, “Is it 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 that way, they are rocky.”
The fan interjected: “They don’t care, I get it.”
Don’t bother ‘the wrong word,’ Arnold said, ‘they’re not afraid of people.
This is the essence of the matter. The Glazers have enough money not to care what fans think, even if the fans are supposed to be the club’s lifeblood. And the fans may feel they can chase sponsors, but that’s Manchester United. There will always be more sponsors, which is exactly why the Glazers bought the team in 2005. Whether Glazers are geniuses or fools (most tend to the latter), this is a process too big to fail, even though the Lord knows they tried.
This is still a worrying thing to hear for fans in the UK and possibly much of the world, with clubs not far from being an extension of the communities and towns they originate from. It’s totally unfair to Arnold, a true fan as well as managing the team, that he has to show the Stones to talk to fans while the Glazers are hiding somewhere in the Florida mansion when they are the problem. But this is also the work that Arnold did.
You can’t help but wonder what English football has to lose when fans feel completely helpless against owners like the Glazers. It’s a feeling we’ve known for our entire lives and maybe years longer, but that’s the difference in vibe and feel between American sports and sports elsewhere, right? That’s why we watch European football in greater numbers every year, or at least for one reason. To at least witness, if you don’t feel a part of it, something that fans feel a part of. Not being owned by us only by a small group of wealthy demons trampling on our windpipe for another $5 if they had the chance.
Arnold is definitely not wrong and he is just being honest. And there were only 12 or so fans in the pub. But that message got out, and the Glazers might think silence would be better than the protests they had a few years ago now. But indifference is worse than anger. On the flip side, the bet they made was that the passion that drives fans to organize protests and storm the pitch, a passion you won’t find here, will keep United a profitable cow. They may defame sponsors on websites but they will never come to Old Trafford. Come to the opening of the Premier League season in August, you can be sure there will be 65,000.
Perhaps they were not far from understanding their passion that would be used against them. Even if it was a United team, it would be sad to watch and many would accept that. But it will happen.