Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Love United. Hate Glazer: A Fan's Paradox

As much as I am devoted to Manchester United, admittedly, I am a relative newcomer to the club. My husband has been supporting them for over 20 years, and at the beginning of our marriage, I was simply a casual observer. It's a whole different story now! To say that Manchester United is merely a part of our family life is an understatement. We have made supporting United an entrenched family tradition.

Currently, the ownership of Manchester United is the source of great protest by the United faithful. They feel that the current owner, Malcolm Glazer et al, are driving this proud and great football club into the ground. With soaring debts, no money to acquire good players, the supporters have banded together in protest, and are doing their best to hit the owners where it hurts - in the pocketbook.

So, using mighty dollar (or pound, in this case) as a weapon, the truly dedicated are even giving up their season tickets. Those who can't bear to not see United play will not buy the new season's kit (uniform) in protest. But, I wonder, where does that leave the international fan?

The protest begs the question -- a true fan loves and supports his/her club. Without the option of purchasing season tickets and absolutely nothing else, how are foreign supporters supposed to demonstrate our loyalty to the club? There's a very fine line between supporting your club and supporting the owners. Of course, I want the club to be owned by trustworthy, steadfast and devoted leaders. But, I also want the players, other fans and really, the entire world to know that I am a United girl - through and through.

And beyond the obvious indications of support that manifest themselves via merchandise, doesn't sucking the owners dry also starve the players, too? If the club's owners have no money, doesn't that translate to less money for our players? The inability for them to get new teammates that play at their level? The forcing of players to look, in spite of their heart's desires, for greener pastures?

I don't mean to insinuate that what I know about the Glazer situation even scratches the surface its complexity. To a certain degree, I think there are some things about it that you can only understand if you live in Manchester. I am just trying to figure out what my duty as a fan in America is, and how to do the right thing for our beloved players.

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