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Old 17th August 2005, 10:42   #1
Paul Brooks

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Default Media lose interest in Glazer takeover as self interest prevails

Manchester United: Media lose interest in Glazer takeover as self interest prevails
Alex Wolstenholme : Square : 16 August 2005

"Whether or not the Manchester United fans who are protesting against Glazer have your sympathy or not, the increasing cosiness of the media towards the bigger clubs is worrying."

The Glazers were firmly welcomed into the Old Trafford fold last week according to the newspapers after watching United’s victory over Debrecen in the Champions League.

The Sun led the way with a report that Pravda would have been proud of, saying:

‘A MASS protest against the Glazer family by angry Manchester United fans was a flop.

In fact it was all smiles at Old Trafford last night as supporters queued for their AUTOGRAPHS!

Joel, Avi and Bryan Glazer, sons of United’s new owner Malcolm, defied threats and watched the Red Devils’ 3-0 win from the directors’ box.

And a planned boycott of the match fell flat as more than 50,000 fans turned up.’

On a number of levels the story is a complete nonsense not least the fact that the boycott of the match had no effect. For Manchester United to be selling tickets on the gate for any match, let alone a European game indicates that a large number of people voted with their feet and stayed away.

Other reports on the game at least mentioned that there were protests outside the ground but still focused on Sir Alex Ferguson’s praise for the Glazers and the reaction of the fans inside the ground towards the team.

Basically the media, having used the Glazer deal to fill a fairly quiet summer are saying that the fans should forget about it because the season has started and United have started well.

It’s a far cry from the time, a decade or so ago when Manchester City fans managed to remove chairman Peter Swales from the helm at Maine Road with the active support of the Daily Mirror and shows the changing priorities of the media.

Whether or not the Manchester United fans who are protesting against Glazer have your sympathy or not, the increasing cosiness of the media towards the bigger clubs is worrying.

At the heart of it all is the fact that the tabloids are increasingly reliant on the club’s own media outlets for stories.

A number of ‘exclusives’ now come from MUTV; Chelsea TV or club websites while others are arranged with a certain player’s own sponsor and include shameless plugs for the product involved.

This means that any kind of serious analysis of, for example, whether Malcolm Glazer is risking the future of Manchester United with his plans is not undertaken for fear of upsetting the club and missing out on the big stuff, such as Rio’s latest haircut or Wayne’s new car in the future.

It’s perhaps not so much of a problem with the tabloids whose output is often read with detached amusement but even at local level, newspapers that have been prepared to criticise constructively in the past are increasingly having to toe the line as clubs realise that they can now get their own message out to the fans through their own websites and magazines.

The hype of the Premiership is supposed to quash any kind of dissent from fans but opening day attendances and season-ticket figures at some clubs show that the high water mark may have been reached.

For now, there are enough ‘new’ fans to keep the whole thing afloat but if prices continue to rise and the Premiership becomes more and more dominated by a select band of clubs that will change.
If it does, the clubs themselves will need to listen to fans and give themselves a greater say in the running of their club. Whether the media like it or not.
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