Unless you followed some of the United focused journalists on twitter (James Robson, Samuel Luckhurst, David McConnell or Stretty News) you could be forgiven for thinking that Manchester United had been twiddling their thumbs during the current crisis whilst clubs’ blundered their way through it, only to be presented as benchmarks of virtue for kowtowing to pressure (see Oliver Holt after Liverpool decided not to furlough staff – then blame the reversal on a leak — and for a laugh see Holt when Spurs made the same decision).
United have been very quietly doing the right thing throughout.
Most recently, as my colleague Leah Smith has written about, they waived loan fees due by three clubs to extend loans. It may seem minor (130k between them) but at time when many EFL clubs are in financial peril a few thousand could be vital.
But this is by no means the first act by the club. From the outset the club made it clear that all non-essential staff no required would receive full pay and not placed on furlough, whilst they were encouraged to sign up the NHS volunteer scheme, or other such schemes. This remains the case.
United have also helped out the NHS in other ways. The club donated its entire stock of PPE to local NHS trusts and sent all of the fresh food it had prepared to provide meals for all NHS staff. They followed that up by teaming up with their match day food supplier to prepare and deliver another 3000 meals at the start of May. In addition Old Trafford was made available as blood bank if the NHS needed the space.
The club has also set about ringing all season ticket holders over the age of 70 or classed as vulnerable to check on their welfare and if they needed anything and also recently announced that all season ticket holders could either have a refund on the remainder of their ticket for this season or a discount towards their renewal
But it’s not just the club that has stepped up to the plate. The players have done their bit too. They were heavily behind the ‘Players Together’ initiative (are you watching Matt Hancock) but even before that there were heavy murmurings that they were planning to donate 30% of their income to the local NHS trust independently.
Club captain Harry Maguire has shown his leadership quality throughout. As well as remaining in contact with all the playing staff to check on their welfare Maguire set about organising an army of volunteers in his local village of Mosborough to deliver food and medicine to vulnerable people. All of this whilst based in Manchester and having a newborn baby (born at the start of April).
But it’s not just the captain that has been stepping up. Local boy Marcus Rashford has teamed up with food charity FareShare to deliver over 2 million (to date) and counting meals to households who had children on free school meals (where perhaps said meal was their only proper meal that day) and just today received an award from the High Sheriff of Manchester in recognition of this (again see this piece by Leah for the full story).
Bruno Fernandes was delivering parcels in his native Lisbon before his recent return to Manchester whilst even the legends of the club have been helping with the Class of 92 offering their hotels free of charge for NHS staff and club ambassadors like Bryan Robson have been involved in the contacting of those vulnerable fans.
All in all then it’s clear to see that the club has taken an active role throughout this crisis and has taken its place as a representative of Manchester very seriously.