David Beckham Joins Manchester United Fans Protest of Glazer Family

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to face the Washington Redskins next season, Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer can surely commiserate with Dan Snyder about one thing – how much the fans of his franchise hate him and want him to sell the team. The team for Glazer, however, is not necessarily Tampa Bay – although one has to wonder how those fans feel about the Glazer family at this point – but Manchester United, the most famous franchise in the world. ↵

↵Yesterday marked David Beckham's first trip back to Old Trafford since leaving Manchester United in 2003, and after mockingly booing the former United captain, the crowd gave him a rousing salute. Then his former team trounced his current (on loan) Milan squad 4-0 on the back – and foot and head – of Wayne Rooney. Man Utd polished off a 7-2 aggregate victory over AC Milan in the Champions League, sending the Red Devils into the quarterfinals as a clear favorite. ↵

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↵Yet the news resonating from Old Trafford is less about the dominance on the pitch and more about the unrest in the stands. Fans traded in their red and white scarves for yellow and green, signifying the original colors of the franchise and sending a clear message to the Glazers that running this once-rich franchise into immense financial debt is not acceptable. Following the game, Beckham let his action speak louder than any of his words, as he picked up a scarf that was tossed onto the field, making his thoughts on the Glazer ownership group rather obvious. After the match, he discussed the situation with reporters. Per The Guardian: ↵

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↵⇥For someone of Beckham's standing to endorse the green and gold movement would be regarded as a major victory for the protestors but, as the former United player reflected on Milan's 4-0 defeat, the heaviest inflicted on them since the Champions League's conception, he said he did not want to be regarded as a figurehead for the campaign. "I'm a Manchester United fan and when I saw the scarf I wanted to put it round my neck," Beckham explained. "It's the old colours of United but, to be honest, it's not my business. I'm a United fan and I support the club. I always will, but it's got nothing to do with me how it's run. That's all to do with other people. I just support the team. I will always support the team." ↵
↵No, no. I wasn't making any political statements. My neck was just a bit chilly. That's all. The rest of this isn't my business. I just support warmth. I will always support warmth. ↵

↵The hatred for the Glazer family has been fervent since they took control of the team, and has rarely wavered, despite the team's continued success on the field. With two of the Glazer boys – Joel and Avram – in attendance yesterday, the vitriol reached a fever pitch. From Goal.com: ↵

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↵⇥Wayne Rooney’s brace, which saw him notch 30 goals for the season, made the stands erupt in joy. No such good feeling was afforded to the hated Glazers. ↵⇥

↵⇥Whether boredom was to blame as the Milan fight back failed to materialise is up for conjecture. Not even the slickest of public relation operations could deny the bile that echoed from each corner of Old Trafford. ↵⇥

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↵⇥A pre-match sit-out failed to occur, though the appearance of anti-Glazer banners and constant volley of furious chants left the owners in no illusion to how they are perceived. ↵⇥

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↵Do you hear about Lakers or Yankees fans holding protests while their team is on pace to win championships? Usually in America we reserve our ownership protests for habitual losers, like Redskins fans have done in the past few years. If the Redskins were a championship-caliber team – or even a playoff contender – nobody would be bringing anti-Snyder signs to the stadium and you'd never hear about how much money it costs to park, eat and sit at the stadium. ↵

↵But with Manchester United, it's become all about the debt that the Glazer family forced upon the team when taking over. Oh, and it probably has something to do with the fact that the Glazer family has been reportedly borrowing off the top of their own debt: ↵

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↵⇥On 30 June last year, United entered into a consultancy agreement with SLP Partners, "a company related to certain of our ultimate shareholders", to pay up to £2.9m. On top of that, on 19 December 2008, each of Malcolm Glazer's five sons and one daughter, all of whom are directors of Red Football Limited, each personally borrowed about £1.66m from the club, a total of £10m. ↵⇥

↵⇥Added together, the management fees, consultancy agreement maximum and the £10m the six family members actually borrowed from United make a total of £22.9m paid to the family and their affiliated companies in three and a half years. ↵⇥

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↵Add to that the fact that Cristiano Ronaldo's sale brought the team a record £81m, and despite the fact that the team has promised to use that money to better the club on the pitch, the franchise is left with virtually nothing if you account for the more than £67m in debt – annually – the team must pay under their current loan agreements. Fans will be excited if the team keeps winning, but they won't be truly happy until the Glazers are gone.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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