Manchester United fans blocked entrances to the club’s Carrington training ground this morning to protest against the club’s billionaire American owners, and only left when the manager, his coaches and a senior player emerged to speak to them.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, first-team coaches Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher and midfielder Nemanja Matic spoke with the angry supporters who were demanding the Glazer family sells the club.
The Florida-based Glazers were architects of the shambolic European Super League plans, which collapsed after an unprecedented 48 hours of criticism from supporters, pundits and the intervention of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
On Wednesday afternoon, United co-chairman Joel Glazer finally admitted they ‘got it wrong’ and ‘apologised unreservedly’ to the club’s fans over the whole saga.
But this was not enough to placate the fans who turned up at a sun-drenched Carrington this morning.
Shortly after 9am today, photos emerged on Red Issue’s Twitter feed of fans protesting at both entrances, inside the training ground and by the first-team pitch.
They were brandishing banners reading ‘Glazers Out’, ‘We decide when you play’, and ‘51% MUFC’, – a reference to the German ownership model where fans hold a majority stake of the club.
A statement from Manchester United said: ‘At approximately 9am this morning a group gained access to the club training ground. The manager and others spoke to them. Buildings were secure and the group has now left the site.’
Red Issue said the fans were initially told Solskjaer – a legendary figure at the club as a player – would not speak to them because they were ‘intimidating’.
They say when he and his coaches did emerge, along with Matic, he was accused of falling silent of the club having opposed the takeover of the club by the Glazers in 2005.
‘Joel (Glazer) loves the club,’ Solskjaer is said to have replied.
Manchester United fans have gathered at the club’s Carrington training ground to protest
The group of supporters – here by the first-team pitch – held banners saying ‘Glazers Out’
Fans gathered with all the banners outside the entrance to Carrington on Thursday morning
Supporters approached the training ground in masks, while there were police officers present
An aerial shot of United’s Carrington training ground with the two entrances to the site circled
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (pic alongside the Glazers in 2019) reportedly told the protestors: ‘Joel (Glazer) loves the club’
On Wednesday afternoon, United co-chairman Joel Glazer finally admitted they ‘got it wrong’ in being one of the main driving forces behind the now-collapsed European Super League and has ‘apologised unreservedly’ to the club’s fans over the whole saga.
In a letter penned to United supporters less than 24 hours after the club withdrew from the Super League following fierce backlash, Glazer also admitted that he and members of the board need to ‘be better at communicating’ with the fanbase.
In what was a rare public address from the 50-year-old, Glazer acknowledged that his role in the £4.6bn scheme ‘failed to show enough respect for [football’s] deep-rooted traditions’ and said he was now ‘personally committed to rebuilding trust with our fans’.
‘Over the past few days, we have all witnessed the great passion which football generates, and the deep loyalty our fans have for this great club,’ the letter read.
‘You made very clear your opposition to the European Super League, and we have listened. We got it wrong, and we want to show that we can put things right.
United co-chairman Joel Glazer (R) penned an apology to the Utd fans on Wednesday night
United fans reacted with joy on social media upon learning of the training ground protests
United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward stepped down this week after the ESL proposal
‘Although the wounds are raw and I understand that it will take time for the scars to heal, I am personally committed to rebuilding trust with our fans and learning from the message you delivered with such conviction.
The club has already felt its first casualty from the Super League mess, after it was announced that chief executive Ed Woodward would be stepping down from his role at Old Trafford.
Woodward was a key figure in fiercely controversial plans for the new breakaway league, with his links to US investment bank JP Morgan helping to secure the £4.3billion in financing.
Confirming his decision on Tuesday night, Woodward said: ‘I am extremely proud to have served United and it has been an honour to work for the world’s greatest football club for the past 16 years.
‘The club is well positioned for the future and it will be difficult to walk away at the end of the year.
‘I will treasure the memories from my time at Old Trafford, during a period when we won the Europa League, the FA Cup and the EFL Cup. I am proud of the regeneration of the club’s culture and our return to the Manchester United way of playing.
‘We have invested more than £1bn in the squad during my time here and I am particularly delighted with the progress the players have made under the astute leadership of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his coaching team in the last two years.’
The Red Issue Twitter account detailed the events of this morning involving the protestors and manager Solskjaer
A police car and riot van (background) turned up but stayed away from the conversation as protestors were seen in the surroundings of Carrington on Thursday morning
Before his exit from the club, Glazer tried to persuade Woodward from resigning but was unsuccessful in his attempts, according to The Times .
The report details that Woodward is understood to have told those closest to him that trying to establish the Super League was one of the biggest mistakes of his career and he regrets it.
Club sources said that Woodward was planning to leave at the end of the year anyway — and is set to remain until then — but the announcement had been brought forward to avoid leaks.
GLAZER APOLOGY IN FULL
To all Manchester United supporters,
Over the past few days, we have all witnessed the great passion which football generates, and the deep loyalty our fans have for this great club.
You made very clear your opposition to the European Super League, and we have listened. We got it wrong, and we want to show that we can put things right.
Although the wounds are raw and I understand that it will take time for the scars to heal, I am personally committed to rebuilding trust with our fans and learning from the message you delivered with such conviction.
We continue to believe that European football needs to become more sustainable throughout the pyramid for the long-term. However, we fully accept that the Super League was not the right way to go about it.
In seeking to create a more stable foundation for the game, we failed to show enough respect for its deep-rooted traditions –promotion, relegation, the pyramid – and for that we are sorry.
This is the world’s greatest football club and we apologise unreservedly for the unrest caused during these past few days.
It is important for us to put that right.
Manchester United has a rich heritage and we recognise our responsibility to live up to its great traditions and values.
The pandemic has thrown up so many unique challenges and we are proud of the way Manchester United and its fans from Manchester and around the world have reacted to the enormous pressures during this period.
We also realise that we need to better communicate with you, our fans, because you will always be at the heart of the club.
In the background, you can be sure that we will be taking the necessary steps to rebuild relationships with other stakeholders across the game, with a view to working together on solutions to the long-term challenges facing the football pyramid.
Right now, our priority is to continue to support all of our teams as they push for the strongest possible finish to the season.
In closing, I would like to recognise that it is your support which makes this club so great, and we thank you for that.
With best regards,