Manchester United were my first love.
Throughout my childhood, adolescence and fledgling adult life they’ve given me more joy and heartache than I can even put a measure on, and I’m sure you are all the same. The thrill of attending my first game with my dad is a feeling I will never forget and one I hoped to share with any of my own future offspring. It seems now, that this will all be memories and hopes, distant thoughts and happy times to recount upon. The European Super League being even just a notion has confirmed what we all knew – fans are worthless.
When the pandemic hit, I was proud of the response of the club. Provisions to local NHS centres and local communities were almost too much as the club showed it’s class in the most challenging of times. When football resumed, the unveiling of the mosaic of banners that adorned the seats brought goosebumps to my neck, a quote from one of the clubs biggest heroes read “Football without fans is nothing” and you felt like it was sincere. Sir Matt Busby’s words etched in foot-high letters for all to see on the lower tier of the Stretford End, there was a lump in your throat. Yes, deep down, we all knew fans were disposable to the owners, cattle they can milk for every hard earned penny, but you didn’t dare believe it was really this way and it was easy to overlook this as you encapsulated yourself watching the boys in red.
As United were seemingly labouring to a hard-earned point (at the time) against Burnley, my life was rocked. Our lives were rocked. As Mason Greenwood made it 2-1, I forgot to cheer, wrapped up in the astonishing announcement we had all feared – there will be a European Super League, and Manchester United are puppeteers-in-chief. It rocked me to my very core, but it was still just speculation. Come 23:30 on Sunday night, it suddenly wasn’t. I’ve woken up on Monday morning feeling like part of me has left, an empty hole where there once was such a huge part of my life. It’s like a member of my family has died.
I keep being told to remove emotion from it, but how can you not be emotional? How can you not feel bereaved at this hideous news? Football may have needed a shake up, but this isn’t to shake football, this is solely to line pockets. The news around lunchtime that the value of Manchester United rose by $250m (Mirror) finished me off, it was the nail in the coffin. Americanisation has won the day, it started with Moneyball, putting extra focus on stats to beat your opponents, it evolved into “low blocks”, into teams buying other teams and forming groups. Franchises.
Sitting here now, writing this likely disjointed attempt at putting my thoughts and feelings on this absurd situation into words, listening to Gary Neville finally go in on the parasites at the top of our club, I’m relieved to know Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs fans are feeling the same anger. I’m comforted knowing the Liverpool fans are outside Anfield making themselves heard, United fans are outside Old Trafford doing the same, Spurs and Chelsea too. Fans can prove their worth once and for all.
Football has already changed forever before anything is rubber-stamped, knowing the club wants this alters my feelings about them entirely. I’m not rushing now to ensure my future children will grow up United fans, I’m no longer looking forward to going back to Old Trafford after the pandemic, I don’t care about our game against Leeds. The Glazers have finally done it. They’ve finally killed Manchester United. They don’t care about my opinion, but I hope they’re happy. Football is for the fans, let’s make it known.