Sunday, January 01, 2006

Not quite the end of the world, after all.

It's that time of year when the media fills pages by reflecting on some of the major events of the previous year, so why should I be different?

Nothing was more traumatic for Manchester United fans than the takeover of the club by the Glazer family.

Let me confess to being a long-standing but moderate ABU (anyone but United) but now I find myself turning against their fans too.

Remember all the hype in early 2005 when Malcolm Glazer was organising his takeover of Manchester United? Glazer’s effigy was burned, supporters picketed Old Trafford, death threats were issued, his family needed a police escort to get out of the ground etc..

“Shareholders United”, who claimed to represent 17% of Manchester United shareholders, promised to uses their votes to block Glazer’s plan. Sadly, it turned out that these shareholders actually held less than 1% of Man Utd shares between them so that threat ultimately came to nothing.

Once Glazer’s bid was successful, the protesting supporters announced a boycott of United matches and plans to set up a new football club.

I haven’t heard much since about how the new club was getting on, but I thought I’d check up on the boycott. Yesterday, United played Bolton at Old Trafford, not one of the glamour ties of the season. Official attendance was 67,858 - that’s 23,000 more than Liverpool had at Anfield and 27,000 more than Chelsea had at Stamford Bridge.

Now that’s what I call a successful boycott! Clearly Roy Keane was right about the prawn-sandwich brigade who now constitute the United fan base.

Despite all the anguished tears and breast-beating at the time, the Manchester United world hasn’t ended with the arrival of the Glazer clan.

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