Manchester United fans decided enough was enough on Sunday afternoon, taking their protests to new levels outside Old Trafford.
Thousands of United supporters gathered outside the 76,000-seater stadium to demonstrate against the Glazers’ ownership, with a large number spilling onto the pitch itself.
Chants were sung, banners were held and green and yellow flares were lit.
So much chaos was caused that the game was postponed, achieving the aims of many of the protestors who arrived outside Old Trafford.
So just why are United supporters so angry? And why do they want the owners out so badly?
Mirror Sport takes a look…
Glazers buy United…but not with their own money
When the Glazer family took over United they did so with loans and hedge funds – a leveraged takeover. They didn’t actually put their hands into their own pockets to complete the purchase.
Why’s this bad? Well they pushed that debt onto United – putting the club in the red for the first time since the 1930s. And with interest rates of around £60million per annum added on top the debt would only get bigger if not paid off.
The Glazers borrowed £520million to buy United and across the years the interest and other charges have cost United a staggering £1.5billlion.
In 2010, United’s debt peaked at £716m and now sits around £450m.
Malcom Glazer also split his shares – at the time, 100 per cent ownership of United – among his six children after passing in 2014.
So to rub salt onto the wound, this meant that the entire Glazer family would receive healthy dividends payments from the club – and have done so now for years and years.
In fact, they’ve personally made around £200million off United while keeping it in debt.
Season ticket hikes and broken promises
Immediately after taking over, the Glazers made a habit of hiking the season ticket prices every season. Given the aforementioned information it probably comes as no real surprise.
But ramping up fan costs to pay off their own debts obviously did not go down well.
Thankfully, owners recently made the decision to freeze season ticket prices for the tenth year in a row.
Something else the Glazers promised they would do when they took over was redevelop and pump money into Old Trafford. It hasn’t happened.
Regular goers will know how worn down the interior is, with rust and moss growing in certain areas. The Glazers now believe a refurbishment of the stadium makes little financial sense.
Brand identity and lack of football focus
Even the non-Manchester United fans will know there’s something special about the club – the heart, the promotion of youth, the history, the stature, the philosophy.
Glazers, possibly even without realising, have ripped much of that out of the club. Sir Alex Ferguson did brilliantly to mask much of it by delivering on the pitch but since his retirement the club’s exterior has slowly been peeled back to show an ugly inside.
In a bid to combat their crippling debt and high interest rates the Glazers introduced a commercial model of making as much money as possible through brand partnerships. While this was no new thing in football, having an official noodle partner is.
United now have a staggering 53 global, regional, media and financial partners.
While, yes, this is good for making a lot of money, it has earned United the reputation as something of a cashcow rather than a football club.
There’s actually no denying that Ed Woodward was pretty good at this side of things – why do you think the Glazers appointed him. But had he put as much energy into funding the team and manager as he spent sealing deals all over the world it probably wouldn’t be as big an issue.
This comes back to the fact the Glazers, and Woodward, are not football fans. Would the club be in the position it is now with a clever businessman born and raised in Stretford in charge? Almost certainly not.
European Super League
Protests have stayed dormant for some time but the club’s decision to enter, or co-found, the European Super League proved to be the final straw.
A superb reaction from the fans saw a quick withdrawal and apology from Joel Glazer but it wasn’t enough.
United fans have grown sick and tired of decisions being made simply for financial gain and rejected the apology. They want control back.
Banners with ’50+1′ were held outside Old Trafford on Sunday, with fans demanding the club to adopt the Bundesliga model – whereby supporters hold the majority of the voting rights of their club.
It is therefore of no real surprise to learn Bayern Munich turned down the chance to join the ESL.
There is no easy fix and it remains to be seen whether United fans will continue to protest at every remaining home game this season.
The Glazers will no doubt be hoping this blows over. Whether it does or not is another question.