Whenever there is a struggle for power, chaos often reigns supreme as rival factions come to be heard, all believing they know how to bring down the abhorred regime best.
While Manchester United fans are united in their desire to be rid of the club’s owners, the Glazer family, which method will be most effective in persuading their absent overlords to leave is a matter of contention.
Supporter groups have traded insults (online), called each other out and doubted the methods of the other in going about pressuring the Glazers into selling up.
Underground fan group The 1958 are a new, vociferous group, who have staged two protests before matches this season, with banners demanding they “get their club back” brandished outside the director’s entrance.
The third demonstration is expected to be much grander and vitriolic, especially given supporters have been buoyed this week by Sir Jim Ratcliffe saying he would be interested in buying the club.
Plans are afoot for a walkout, publicized with the accompanying #EmptyOldTrafford hashtag, during Monday’s clash with Liverpool, to make a visible statement of discontent.
“A fish rots from the head” the group said in a statement this week announcing their protest plans, remaining nameless and faceless.
Yet, not everyone approves.
“We are not behind Monday’s planned walkout,” Ian Stirling, independent supporter liaison officer of Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) tells of. “Even if 10,000 fans leave Old Trafford, which I don’t think they will, it still won’t look empty. They [The 1958] are asking for fans without tickets to turn up and protest. My guess is what they are organizing is arranged by people who have never even been to Old Trafford.”
The animosity between the pair has been there since the 1958 emerged. “We have a supporters’ trust that have failed in their intentions,” The 1958 said in a statement in May. “Appeased by a chair at the boardroom table. Pacified by the hope of a fans share option and one conversation with the owners on the fans’ forum. They need to show their hand.”
It has taken an edge off the excitement among some sections of supporters as light emerges at the end of the tunnel, creating a bitterness towards MUST, despite their intentions remaining equal.
“The 1958 have done more in just a few months than MUST in 17 years (of the Glazer ownership), read one widely-shared post, with plenty calling for the pair to “join forces”. MUST members have been keen to point out they are not “against” The 1958.
Fans protested en masse at Liverpool’s visit last year, storming the pitch to ensure the match was postponed. MUST were heavily involved in that, bringing an organized element to it.
This time around, however, the new upstarts will be on their own, hoping Manchester-born Ratcliffe’s revelation will help them generate a similar-sized angry mob.
“The Glazers have seen off protests before,” Stirling adds. “The green and gold movement 10 years ago was one of the most visible shows of protests against ownership football has ever seen. They can do it again.”