First things have to come first. I must confess that although writing about Manchester United has never been difficult, this story is about as hard as it can get. The reason is that it’s not about the football club at all but about a man, someone who’s just like you and me. An elderly man who unlike Malcolm Glazer has devoted his life to the club and whose heart is about to be broken because some greedy bastard, thousands of miles away, is determined to squeeze every last dollar out of it.
Let me explain. Like many football fans I belong to a number of forums where people have a chance to share opinions about the club they support. Emails are exchanged with other members who you never really get to know and messages are sent to the group as a whole.
One such message dropped into my inbox this morning with the only difference being that it was an open letter to Birmingham City and former Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster by a man who took offence to some comments Foster had made about a section of United fans.
This is what Foster was quoted as saying within days of going to St Andrews “It is a distraction when fans do their chants at every game” admitted Foster after joining Birmingham for £5m. “The fans are passionate about United but sometimes they need to focus on supporting the club more rather than getting carried away with the technicalities of who is in charge. The Glazers have always put money towards Manchester United to buy players when needed”
A fourty season Manchester United supporter named Peter who must live within reasonable distance of Old Trafford, did not take kindly to those words and decided to write an open letter to Foster through our common forum. It is reproduced here because of the strong possibility that Peter’s thoughts may be shared by many of our readers.
You don’t know me but we have spoken on several occasions. I am one of the group of people who attend nearly every Reserve and Academy game, home and away.
This is the first opportunity I have had to write to you about your misguided comments about the owners of Manchester United, the Glazer family. Plainly I have no idea what your motivation for making those comments was, but judging by what you said to the media there can be no doubt that you have no idea about the situation facing supporters of Manchester United.
The group I mention above are about thirty strong. Between us we have been supporting Manchester United for about one thousand years. I have been going to games for well over fifty years. We are as committed to the Club as any group of people can be. All of our disposable income, and that is not a great deal of money in most of our cases, is spent following Manchester United. Since the Glazer family took over Manchester United my season ticket has risen by 69% – I wonder if you were aware of that statistic. I can tell you that my income has not risen by anything even remotely close to that – obviously.
Ben, you are, compared to most working people, a very well paid and rich young man. That is a wonderful thing and I am delighted for you. Many of our group are living on the `edge’. Over the past five years quite a few of our number, good and loyal supporters, have had to give up their season tickets. They have not done that to make some grand political gesture – they have done it because they no longer have the money to pay for their season tickets.
As each year has gone by, and more have had to `lose’ their treasured tickets, our collective hearts have been shredded. This will be, without any doubt, my last season. I have had a season ticket now for forty years – soon it will be gone. I no longer have the money which is required. It breaks my heart.
Ben, I do hope you will think about what I have said and reflect on what you said to the media. Please, consider how hurtful were your comments to good and decent people who have had to forego the one thing in life that they value more than anything else. It would be a wonderful gesture if you would consider retracting what you said.
I want to end on a more positive note. I am sad that you have left Old Trafford and I want to wish you well in your career with Birmingham City. May you go from strength to strength.
Sincere best wishes,
Do those words make you wonder? Wonder if the multi millionaire Glazer family has ever known what it’s like to be in Peter’s position? And if David Gill ever was, can he remember? For all the undying respect we carry for Sir Alex Ferguson, does he realize what message his support for his club owners send to people who have idolised him for most of their adult lives? And do players like Ben Foster REALLY understand what the hell they are talking about?
It’s all well and good to talk about the silverware the team has won since the Glazers bought the club but how does that make the Peters of this world feel? The club they have supported through 20, 30 and more years of failure has finally become successful but that success can only be shared with those who can afford it.
They have become like children with their noses pressed against glass windows watching the festivities from the outside because the good times now belong to others. Sadly, since the Glazer family took ownership of the club, that’s what Manchester United, and to be fair many others, have either become or are on the brink of very soon becoming. And to hell with Peter and his kind.
Has keeping your season ticket at Old Trafford no longer affordable?