Glazers count cost of protest

Steve Dinneen
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AS Wayne Rooney inspired Manchester United to Carling Cup victory yesterday there were few red flags in evidence. Instead the crowd was awash with green and gold. Thousands of balloons in the
colours were released as the game kicked off.

These are the colours of United’s first strip, when the club was called Newton Heath. They have become a potent symbol of fans’ dismay at the management of the club by the much criticised Glazer family, who have saddled United with debts of £716m.

The campaign is beginning to hit the Glazers where it really hurts – their pockets. The amount of merchandise the campaign has taken away from the Old Trafford club already stands at more than £900,000.

An estimated 4,000 fans have given up their season tickets since the Glazers bought the club in 2005, although most of these were snapped up by other supporters. However critics of the Glazers hope to convince a further 15,000 to spurn their tickets next season if the Glazers continue to snub requests to listen to a fans’ bid. If they achieve this lofty ambition it could cost the club a staggering £12m.

City stalwarts Keith Harris and David Bick are leading the charge to table a bid for the club and say they have the funds in place for a bid rumoured to be worth £1bn.

The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (Must), which is orchestrating the campaign, announced yesterday it is hiring the same online marketing company used by President Barack Obama in the lead-up to his election campaign to double the 50,000 members of its online protest group.